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FROM THE TEARSh 1810 TO 1819. 




VOL. I. 








I willingly avail myself of your kind permission to 
dedicate the following pages to your Lordship. To 
whom, indeed, could I with so much propriety address 
them, as to the noble individual who has, during a 
period of nearly thirty years, been pleased to honour 
me with the most unequivocal marks of his friendship 
and esteem, and to whose kindness and liberality I am 
indebted for the copyright of the work ? 

It was under the immediate auspices of your lordship, 
that my late lamented friend, Mr. Salt, undertook his 
first journey to Abyssinia ; an event, which accidentally 
led to your lordship's first acquaintance with the author 
of this Journal — one of those remarkable and adven- 
turous beings, whom Nature, in her sportive humour, 
seems to take delight in creating. 

He was found by your lordship in the most forloni 
and deplorable condition, and it was through your bene- 
volence, seconded by the eflforts of Mr. Salt, that the 
outcast became reclaimed, and once more obtained a 


reputable footing in society. His gratitude for the 
favours he received terminated only with his life, and 
I am sure it must prove a source of lasting satisfaction 
to your lordship, that you were made the immediate 
instrument of rescuing a fellow-creature from that de- 
struction, which tearly misconduct had nearly rendered 

With respect to the Journal itself, it possesses no 
claims to literary distinction. It is the artless and un- 
varnished narrative of an uncultivated, but strong and 
original mind, and, in preparing it for the public, it has 
been my chief endeavour to retain, as much as possible, 
the sense and language of the original, and to confine 
my alterations merely to such corrections in orthogra- 
phy, grammar, &c., as would tend to render it more 
clear and intelligible to the reader. It is, however, 
greatly to be regretted, that the various private and pub- 
lic avocations of Mr. Salt, and his untimely death, pre- 
vented him from fulfilling his intention of superintending 
the publication of the manuscript. 

With every kind wish for your lordship's prosperity, 
health, and happiness, I remain, my dear lord. 

Your Lordship's 

faithful Friend and Servant, 


Harrow, June, 1831. 




Life of Nathaniel Pearce, written by himself, and addressed to 
Henry Salt, Esq 1 


Ras Welled Selasse — Submission of Guebra Garo, and his bro- 
thers, Subegadis, Sardie, and Agoos, to the Ras — They again 
rebel — Unite with the Gusmati Ischias, Ras Michael's grandson, 
and other chiefs, to take the province of Tigr6 — Are driven by 
the Ras's troops across the river Tacazz^ — ^Visit of Ras Ilo ; his 
reception at Chelicut — Ras Welled Selass^ takes the field against 
the Rebels — ^Mountain of Ambaarra, a stronghold of Subegadis — 
He is dislodged from it — Preparations for War with Guxo — The 
Gusmarsh Salada — Defeat of Guxo's army — Gojee — His bar- 
barity — Guebra Guro again makes his submission — Forged Letter 
respecting Pearce and Coffin — Reports concerning a white Tra- 
velher — ^Displeasure of the Ras with Pearce, and reconciliation — 
Present to the Ras from the King of Shoa — Battle between 
Baharnegash Subhart and Shum Woldi — Death of Nebrid and 
Funeral Ceremonies — ^Tusfu Mariam, one of the Ras's Chiefs, 
surprised by Subegadis and slain — Operations of Guxo — Guebra 
Ouro confined — Submission of the Gusmati Ischias and other 


rebel Chiefs — Ravages of the Small-pox — Superstitions of the 
Abyssinians in regard to Diseases 65 


Destruction of the town of Bolento by the Galla — Government 
and manners of the Galla — Mr. Coffin's departure for Mocha — 
Present from the King of Shoa to the Raa — The Small-pox — 
Death of Ito Yasous, the King's brother, and his sister, Ozoro 
Mantwaub, wife of the Ras — Affliction of the Ras — Funeral of 
the Ozoro — Movements of Guxo — The Ras takes to wife 
a daughter of the King Itsa Tecla Gorgis — Battle between two 
chiefs at AntAlo — Submission of Subegadis to the Ras — Plans of 
Ras Guebra and Guxo — Locusts — Famine — Itsa Bede Mariam, 
formerly king, visits AntAlo — Insecurity of property — Reigning 
kings of Abyssinia — The Ras assembles his army — Defeat of 
Hilier Mariam by the Tigr6 army — Presents to messengers 
of good tidings — Insurrection of Subegadis — Release of Guebra 
Guro 93 


The Ras marches against a Galla Chief — Surprise and Defeat 
of the Galla — Illness of Pearce — Justice of the Ras — Pearce 
becomes worse — Is visited secretly by the Ras — Pearce visits the 
Ras's brother, Ito Debbib— Stones with Arabic Inscriptions — 
Cry for the death of the kings Yoas and Yonas — Lama — Rough 
Races — Review — Pearce is obliged by his malady to return home 
— His wife Tringo — Administration of the Sacrament — His re- 
covery — Murder of the king of Shoa — Sacred Spring — Grand 
Review — The Sacred Snake — Military Manoeuvres — Narrow 
Escape of Pearce and Coffin 116 


Death of the deposed king Itsa Ischias — Proceedings in a case 
of Murder — Execution — Escape of the Culprit — Law relative to 
Murder — March of the Army from Chelicut — Hikeer Mussal— 


Dacer— Aspect of the Country — ^The Aggerzeen, a species i.f 
Deer^Retum to Chelicut — King Tecla Gorgis entreats the Ros 
to march to Gondar — Entertainment of the Ras, when on march, 
by the Chiefs — ^Mr. Coffin stung by a Scorpion — Feast at Moi 
Agenzean — Entry of the Ras into Axum — Meeting of Tech 
Gorgis and the Ras — Ozoro Dinkemagh — Ozoro Duster — The 
King-Snake — Meeting at the Church — The Crying Cross — Picture 
of the Virgin Mary 141 


Pearce is obliged by ill health to leave the Ras and return to 
Adowa — ^He is joined by his wife — Recovers, and sets out for 
Enderta — His reception by a Village Chief — Asgas Giggar — 
Pearee's party refused accommodation by a Farmer — Custom of 
Soldiers to quarter themselves on Farmers — Mountain of Awaro 
— Arrival at Chelicut — Sudden death of two Servants, attributed 
to ghosts or devils — Illness and death of Pearee's son — Gifts — 
Funeral Ceremonies — Rapacity of the Priests — Death of Ito 
Debbib, the Ras's brother — Cry held for him — Mourning . 177 


Mr. Coffin's Journal of the Expedition to Gondar — Departure 
of the Army from Axum — The River Tacazze — River Moi Loniin 
— Oranges — Cotton — Irrigation — Monkeys — Strong Mountain of 
Chirremferrer — ^The Troops annoyed by Stones rolled from the 
Mountain — They take it by Storm — Fodder for Cattle —Hay not 
known in Abyssinia — Dangerous mountain roads — ^The Worari, 
or Foragers — Gudgauds, or Pits for concealing Goods — Adventure 
of Pearce in a Gudgaud — ^Tree called Genvarar ; superstitious 
notion respecting it — Encampments — The Ras enters Inchetkaub, 
the capital of Ras Guebra — Arder Rnmmet, the capital of 
Walkayt— -Reception of Woldi Comfu— The Shangalla— Ele- 
phant-hunt — Story of a Monk — Strength of the Army — Sudden 
Death of Woldi Comfu — A Galla girl stolen from the Ras by 
his Nephew, Shum Temben Sarlu — The Ras deprives him of his 


districts — Treaty with Ras Guxo and Ilo — Beautifal Valley of 
Shoader 198 


Mr. Coffin's Narrative concluded — ^Expedition to collect the 
Income of Wogara, &c. — Lofty Mountain of Limalms — ^The 
River Ungarrau — ^Arrival at Gondar — ^The king's house— Descrip- 
tion of the town — Singing-Women — ^Wine — Fish — Mr. Coffin 
receives a Visit from an old Servant — Jews — Priests — Church of 
Quosquom — Building Materials — Painting — Return to Inchet- 
kaub— Deputation of Priests sent by Guebra to intercede fo^r him 
with the Ras — Intrigues of Guebra and Tecla Gorgis — Moun- 
tain of Sankar Bar — Attacked and taken by the Ras — SlAUghter 
of the enemy — Devastations of the conquerors — Mountain of 
Amba Hai, Guebra's stronghold — The government of Samen 
given to Guebra Michael — The Gama — Interchange of presents 
between the Ras and Ras Guebra — ^Trial of an English cannon — 
Story of a Turk ^ 251 


Pearce*s Journal resumed — His R^urn to the Camp and 
Reception by the Ras — Cry held for the Ras's brother — Pearce's 
Grass taken by the king — Church of Chelicut — The Organ — 
Expedient for Scaring Grass-Stealers — Rage of the King — ^The 
Ras's Buffoon — ^Buffoons kept by the Chiefs, and their Duties 
— The King dines with the Ras — Person and Character of King 
Tecla Gorgis — His Treachery — His Departure for Axum — Hail- 
Storm — Devastations of Elephants 261 


Character, Manners, and Customs, of the Abyssinians — ^Their 
Complexion — Precarious nature of the Matrimonial tie — MaS' 
ters and Servants — Mechanics — Extraordinary Superstition 
respecting the Potters and workers in Iron — Supposed to have 
the • Power of Transforming themselves into Hyaenas — The 


Zackary — Persons possessed with Evil Spirits — Cure for that 
Disorder — Case of Pearce's Wife — Diseases — Treatment in 
Small-pox — Four Species of Venereal Complaint — Medicines 
— Scrophnla — The Tape-worm —Wild Honey — Lying-in Wo- 
men—Ceremony of Christening — Whimsical Practice to pre- 
serve Children from dying— Marriage— Divorce— Law-suits— 
Wagers 282 


Arts practised to procure Husbands — ^Dowry — Ceremonies of 
Marriage — The Arkeyt ; their Duties — Musical Instruments — 
Dancing — Depravity of the Clergy — Licentiousness of the no- 
bility and higher classes — Punctual observance of Fasts — Ad- 
ministration of the Holy Sacrament — Marks of Respect paid 
to Churches — Priests — Confessors — Schools — Punishment of 
Scholars— Written Charms — Story of a Gojam Dofter — To- 
bacco prohibited by the Piiests — Their Dress — Form of 
Churches — The Tawat^ or Ark — Mode of obtaining Redress 
from Princes or Chiefs — Payment of Taxes — Cattle — Servants 
—Houses — Agriculture — Ravages of Monkeys — Crops — ^Weed- 
ing— Cookery— Feeding 314 



Adawa, Jvly, 1817' 
Sir, ♦^ '- 

According to your desire^ which I am 
very happy to obey, I send you every particular 
of my life that I can possibly recollect^ pre- 
viously to my becoming acquainted with you; 
scandalous as it is^ the truth of it will shame the 

I was bom at East Acton^ Middlesex, on the 
14th day of February, 1779^ and before I was 
seven years of age I had learned to read and 
write a little, at a day-school in Acton, My fa- 
ther, seeing me more inclined to wildness than the 
book, sent me as far from him as possible, think- 
ing it would be for my good, which was to the 
Rev. Daniel Adderson's academy, at Thirsk, in 

VOL. I. B 


Yorkshire, where I remaiDed exactly six years, 
during which time my mind was constantly given 
to bird's-nesting, and to all manner of wild tricks, 
for which I was continually punished severely, 
till I got so hardened, that, at last, I did not mind 
a flogging for a pocketful of apples, or a jack- 
daw's nest; and, at the end of the six years, the 
only improvement I had made in my scholarship 
was, that I had got through the French Grammar, 
and, in summing, into vulgar fraction^, which I 
can assure you was not the fault of my master or 
his ushers, whom I fairly tired out. 

My poor old father, who loved me as he loved 
his life, expecting, when he sent for me home, to 
find me sufficiently learned to go into any kind of 
business, received me with tears running from Ws 
eyes, and, unable to express himself at the joy of 
seeing me, caught me round the neck in his arms, 
the same as if I had risen from the dead ; har- 
dened though I was, I also shed a flood of tears. 
The next day, several of my father's friends sent 
to him, begging that he would allow me to pay 
them a visit, to which he gave his consent. My 
sister took me to several of our family's ac- 
quaintances, all of whom expressed gr^at joy lit 
receiving me, and asked me several questions 
concerning how far I had got in my studies ; one 
eBp6cially, a rank Methodist, asked me to read a 


few dbapters io tbe Testament. This request very 
much shamed me^ and I at first refused, saying 
tiiat I was not well^ however, he clapped the 
book into m^ hand, and I began hammering and 
stammering, which so much surprised the holy 
gentleman, diat he said, '^ The Lord be with you 
my child ! y«u are a great dunce/' 

This unhappy discovery was soon reported to 
my father, who fek very much for my misfnH*- 
tune; though,. frcmi the tender affection he had 
tor me, he never pretended to be angry when I 
was in his sight. He knew perfectly well the 
wUdness of my mind, and always pretended to be 
well j^ased, for fear I should take flight ; be 
constantly gave me good advice, and sent me 
again to Dr. Hall's academy in East 'Acton, 
where I learned more in five or nx months than 
I did tt^ whole six years in Yorkshire. I soon, 
however, b^an my wild tricks again, and was 
continually playing truant ; aad, as the severest 
punishment had no ^Eect upon me, my fatkar at 
last determined, if possible, to break me in. He 
accordingly sent me apprentice to a stubborn 
and unmerciful carpenter and joiner, in Duke 
Street, Groavenor Square, London, of the name 

Being unaUe to bear his sulky look and hea^^ 
fist, I soon fonnd my way to Wi^ping, where, at 
B 2 


New Crane Stairs, I met with a waterman, to 
whom I told my mind. Gl^ of his prize, he put 
me into the stem-sheets of his boat, like a gentle- 
man, and pulled me on board of a bark called the 
Commerce of London. The mate, seeing me well 
rigged, was very particular in inquiring into my 
character, &c. &c.; especially where I was bom, 
and whose son I was. Having been taught by the 
waterman what answers to give, I perfectly satis- 
fied the mate, the captain being on shore ; seeing 
me a well-limbed, likely lad, he paid the water- 
man, and gave him some drink for his trouble. 
At sunset, the captain came on board, and the 
mate immediately presented me to him. He 
looked at me for some time, and asked, in his 
broad Yorkshire accent, where I came from. 
Being well acquainted with the Yorkshire dialect, 
I answered as he liked, and told him I was bom 
at Sutton, near Thirsk, in Yorkshire. He asked 
me if I knew Beverley, where he said he was 
born. I told him I had heard of it, but had never 
been there. He asked me several other questions, 
to which I gave good answers, but when he asked 
me with whom I came to London, I was at a loss 
to find out a lie that would satisfy him ; so, with 
my stammering, he began to be doubtful of what 
I had told him being truth. However, he said he 
would report me to the owner, and get me an 


apprentice's indentures and clothing. The water- 
man^ who pulled me on boards knowing all my 
secrets^ soon, for the sake of a shilling or two, 
went to my sister, and told her what he had done 
with me, I having been fool enough to tell him 
that I had a sister living in the Minories^ About 
three or four days afterwards, one of the appren- 
tice-boys told me that my father was at the 
owner's house in Mile-End; the owner's name 
was Kiddy>. My poor father did all he could to 
coax me back, but to no purpose, as I swore I 
would tie a shot to my neck and jump overboard 
sooner than go back. He at last found it all 
in vain ; so he bought me sailor's clothing and 
every necessary, and left me with tears in his eyes. 
I made one voyage to Petersburgh, and, on my 
return, went to see my sister, who kept me with 
her until she sent to my father, who soon came 
and took me home. As we rode home in a chaise- 
cart, the poor affectionate old man asked me if I 
had had enough of the sea, and gave me several 
good pieces of advice, and promised me that he 
would do many things if I would be dutiful. I 
remained nearly three weeks pretty quiet ; but, 
beginning again my old faults, my friends advised 
my father once more to put me apprentice in 
London, which he again did, and sent me. to a 
wholesale and retail leatherseller's, in Duke 


Street, West Smithfield. My master, whose 
name was Martin, in a few weeks liked me very 
much, and entrusted me more than any one in his 
house; he scarcely ever required me to do any 
thing, but to go on messages to Ixnubard Street 
with bills of exchange, &c. ; in doing which I 
always gave him great satisfaction, and never was 
wrong in bringing him any sum of money that I 
might have received from the bankers, or the 
houses of creditors. However this did not last long; 
my mistress, Mrs. Martin, and I, did not agree^ so 
I packed up my kit of clothing when my master 
was absent, and set out for Deptford, where I 
found a boat's crew of young lads, like myself. 
We soon got acquainted; — ^they belonged to a 
new sloop of war, called the Alert, then just 
fittmg out ; one of them fetched me a dress of Jiis 
own from the ship, and I sold my fore-and- 
afters, or long clothes, to a slopman. When we 
had spent the whole of the money, I went on 
board vpitb my new companions and entered. I 
was immediately put upon the ship's books, and 
ordered to do my duty in the afterguard, but soon 
after in the maintop. After the ship was com- 
pletely fitted out, we dropped down to Long 
Reach, where I was again surprised to see my 
father and master come on board. They said but 
little to me, knowing it to be too late ; but they 


bagged of the captain, Charles Simth« and the 
first lieutenant, Mr. Atkins, ^ l>e as iayourable to 
me aa possible, an4 8^^^ theopi to understand all 
my fftults. They then returned home, leaving 
me some pocket-money in the first lieutenant's 

We wmt two prui^s in the North Se% accom- 
panied by the Aibicore, after which we were 
ordered to Sheerness, to fit out and take in pro- 
visions for six months. Que evening, after clear- 
ing a lighter of provisions, on her shoving off 
from alongside, the topping-lift of her main-boom 
got over the outer boom-iron of our main-yard ; 
we immediately let gp the main braces, that she 
might Qpt spring the yard. As she hung, with a 
rapid tide, I ran out upon the yard-arm, and be- 
gan to cut away her topping-lift ^ liut, before my 
knife had gpt through one iilrand, the heavy strain 
snapped the topping -lift all of a sudden, and the 
slack of the main brace, not being gathered in the 
yard, w^nt with such a swing, that it threw me 
over the lighter into the middle of the stream. 
The boats were immediately manned and shoved 
off to pick me up, but neither officers nor men 
expected to find me, the night being very dark ; 
and they thought the breath must certainly have . 
been out of my body before I reached the water. 
One of the boats, the jolly-boat, luckily, not being 


able to pull against the tide^ drifting down to the 
pointy came close to me^ as I was swimmings as I 
thought^ towards the shore; as soon as I saw 
her, I sung out, and they gladly hauled me in 
half-dead ; they pulled up along shore, and we 
reached the ship, the officers all being greatly 
surprised. They gave me as much grog as I chose 
to drink. During the whole time I was in the 
water, I never let the knife go out of my hand. 
My father, being informed of the accident, came 
with all haste, and once more shewed the tender 
affection he had for me. 

When the ship had completed her provisions, 
we were ordered to Portsmouth, and soon after to 
Plymouth, where we took a packet on board for 
Newfoundland. On the 10th day of May, 1794, 
we were chased by L'Unit^, French frigate, of 
44 guns, and, although we put on every stitch of 
sail we could, she came up with us fast : our 
captain, seeing it was to no purpose to try to 
outrun her, turned the hands up to shorten sail, 
and afterwards beat to quarters. I, being quar- 
tered in the main-top, had a clear view of her 
black sides, as she came up to windward ; before 
she had time to take in her small sails, our main- 
top-sail was clapped to the mast, and our broad- 
side poured into her. Superior as she was, we 
kept her at it at close quarters, for one hour and 


three quarters ; we had only two foremast-men^ 
who were quartered in the mizen-top^ and one 
marine killed, but several wounded. I was among 
the party of prisoners, with the captain^ who was 
taken on board the frigate ; the remainder of our 
crew being left on board our own ship. On the 
24th^ we were drafted on board different ships in 
the grand French fleet, which we that day fell in 
with. I was among a party that was sent on 
board Le Trajan^ 84 guns. Some had the good 
fortune to be put on board Le Sanspareil, 84, 
which was soon after taken on the 1st of June. 

On the 27th and 28th, we saw the English 
fleet to leeward, and on the 29th, some squadrons 
of our fleet came into action in the evening, but 
no ships were lost or taken. On the 30th and 
31st, there was so thick a fog, that we could 
scarcely see '^ the ship in the line a-head of us; 
but, on Sjiijday, the 1st day of June, very early 
in the morning, I was sitting on the Frenchman's 
bowsprit, in the fore stay-sail,'when I heard them 
sing out from the mast-head, that ihe English 
were in sight, and I soon had the happiness of 
seeing their bright yellow sides. The French- 
men piped to breakfast, but I can assure you, that 
there was scarcely an English prisoner on board 
that could eat for joy. The Frenchmen boasting, 
I got myself some good hard thumps for telling 


fiome of them they would change their tune be« 
fore sunset. As soon as they came nearly within 
shot^ the prisoners were ordered into the main- 
hold, where we lost sight of what we so much 
wished to see. The ship we were in was dis* 
Blasted, and reduced to a perfect wreck; but^ 
unluckily for us, not taken. The Fr^ich captain^ 
seeing his decks covered with dead and wounded^ 
ordered the prisoners double allowuice of wine^ 
and to lend a hand to rig a jury foremast, and, in 
a few days, we reached Brest ; — a pretty sight, 
for the Frendimen to see their lame ducks come 
ill in a line ! 

. We were soon landed and marched to Ponta- 
4}6ze, where we remained two or three months, 
very cruelly used : we were afterwards marched 
several -days' march through the country to 
Qmmper. The only town I can possibly recollect 
'Ae name of, which we stopped at on our march, 
f s Landerneau, where I and four more ran away 
fpcntk the guard, and, four days after, were taken 
very near the sea-coast. We were taken to 
Quimper, where we were ordered into the town- 
gaol, and I, beiiig a boy, had only twelve-pound 
irons put upon my legs ; but the other four had 

We were kept in this gaol six weeks, and after - 
Wards put into the main prison of war, where 


there were then three thousand three hundred 
prisoners, English, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguea^, 
&c. ; but, before three months, one thousand five 
hundred died with sickness and hunger. 1 myself 
was very near my last, had I not had the good 
fortune to find a friend, an American, of the name 
of Bodington, who contumally advanced money 
to the English officers who could give sufficient 
security. Mr. Taylor, doctor of the Alert, who 
was the only officer of our ship in that prison, 
seeing me in the miserable condition I was, took 
me to Mr. Bodington's, where he indorsed a bill 
for five pounds upon my father, lliis little h^p 
saved my life, and I was soon perfectly weU-^J^t, 
not being contented to remtun a prisoner, I and 
seven men made another attempt to escape, got 
over the prison walls by night, without being seen 
by the sentries, and took our course for the sea ; 
but, five days after, we were taken and unmerci- 
fully used. We were then marched to the main 
road, to join the prisoners who were going from 
L'Orient and St. Maloes into the interior ; but, 
before we reached them, we came to the city of 
Vannes, where we were put into the town-gaol, 
and very well used by the keeper and his famUy. 
After being there some time, the gaol-keeper's 
daughter, a very young girl, became so fond of me, 
that she got me liberty from her father to go 


about as I liked^ but the men were closely con^ 
fined ; indeed^ the father^ mother^ and the whole 
family, grew so fond of me, that they did not wish 
me to be parted from them. One day, an order 
came to have the prisoners ready to march on the 
morning following ; on hearing this, the whole 
family told me to pretend to be sick, when, they 
said, they would help to get me into the hospital. 
Accordingly the goal-keeper went to fetch a doctor 
from the Dispensary, telling the directors that a 
young English prisoner was dying with the fever. 
The girl, who was so fond of me, fearful that the 
doctor would find me out, persuaded her mother 
to do something to me to make me appear sick, 
and accordingly she boiled some tobacco and gave 
it to me to drink, which made me vomit and left 
me so sick and faint, that I could scarcely stand. 
In the middle of my feigned sickness the doctor 
came in, and, as soon as he had felt my pulse, 
ordered me immediately to the hospital : where 
they first gave me an emetic. The prisoners were 
marched away in the morning, and I being left 
behind, the doctor ordered me into the fever-ward, 
or the salle de fi^vre^ where I had only houillie 
allowed me for two days, which made me curse the 
gaolrkeeper's daughter, but, in a few days, I was 
ordered demi or half-allowance. I soon reported 
myself well, and the goal-keeper came to demand 


me; but the head director^ observing that there were 
no other prisoners of war in any of the prisons of 
the town^ ordered me to remain with the steward 
of the hospital; and^ in a short time^ both the 
director and the steward, seeing the many services 
that I did them, became so fond of m^ that they . 
gave me the office of capitaine des infirmeries, and 
accordingly the wine, bread, and meat, were all 
served out by me, and also weighed in my sight, 
and, in the steward's absence, I wrote the bons to 
the baker, butcher, &c., and a Aow, written by me 
and signed with my name, was as valid as if the 
Erector or steward had written it himself. 

The director often took me out riding with him, 
and gave me pocket-money, and indeed looked 
upon me as his own son; however, all this did not 
satisfy me : I rather wished to ride on board of one 
of my own country ships than the director's pony, 
and accordingly, hearing that the English fleet 
was in Quiberon bay, I agreed with some emi- 
grants, or aristocrats, as they were called, to run 
away. These were five in number, none being 
much older or younger than myself, but very much 
more learned, and the sons of great families. We 
got over the hospital walls in the night, and di- 
rected our course towards the sea, with an inten- 
tion to get among the loyalists in Quiberon; but, 
to our great misfortune, as we approached in the 


frening very near to that place> which the ^igijif]^ 
had put the loyalists in possession of^ a very heavy 
firiog began, which made us endeayour to bide 
om*sel¥es, and we l^y down aiaong some sea«we^» 
that was oa the beach at low wnAer. We soou 
liter heard the cry of " Five la Jtepubliqu^ /'* 
which struck the young emigrants with so much 
terror, that they could scarcely tell what route to 
take. However, we set out along-shore as fast as 
we possibly could, until morning, when we met 
with some Bretons, who informed us that the 
loyalists were all taken by the republican general. 
Those Bretons were also afraid of beiQg caught, as 
they had been employed in taking provisions to the 
loyalists. We were soon captured by some pea- 
sants, who had turned republicans, and were taken 
to Vannes and put into la prison crimineUe, and 
the next day a sergeant and ten private soldiers 
came and marched us out of the prison 3 as we 
went through the town, I heard several of the peo»- 
pie say " What has the little Englishman done ? 
He is a prisoner of war, and not an aristocrat ;" 
on hearing which, I said to my companions, 
" What are they going to do with us?*' One of 
them replied, " You are safe enough, but this is 
-our last day;" 'and one of them was crying bit- 
terly. I wondered greatly what was to be done 
with us, until we were marching sur le Gazon, a 


hill oatside of the town, where I saw the republi* 
can flag, and knew directly what was to be done. 
I immediately asked the sergeant of the guard if 
he was not mistaken^ and did not know that I was 
a prisoner of war. He only lai^hed and gave me no 
answer whatever, and I began to be very much 
afraid, until we were halted before the French 
town -major and his guard. The five young emi* 
grants, my companions, had their hands tied be* 
hind them, and a corporal took me by the hand^ 
and led me to the town-major, who ordered me 
to the priscm ; but the director of the hospital 
who was sitting with him, said, ^^ Let him see his 
aristocrat companions shot first." There were 
several o£Bicers, who endeavoured to beg pardon 
for them, considering that they were very young, 
but to no purpose; they were immediately shot 
dead by the ten soldiers, who brought us from the 
prison. The director told the major not to send 
me into the prison, and said he would take care of 
me himself. The major laughed at me, and told 
me, if I ran away again with the emigrant prison- 
ers I should be shot with them. I promised I 
would, not, and the director ordered me to my 
former duty. The next day, I went to see the 
French emigrants, who were taken prisoners at 
Quiberon, march into the town ; among them I saw 
several Englishwomen, who had come with the 


Frenchmen from Southampton] these emigrant 
prisoners amounted to about seven hundred. They 
were all shot by divisions, sometimes fifty and 
sometimes less j they were not buried, but thrown 
into the river, about three miles below the town, 
where they were shot on the beach. The inhabit- 
ants of Vannes would not, at that time, buy any 
fish that were brought to the market, saying they 
were fed on the flesh of the aristocrats. 

I learned from the Englishwomen, who had taken 
republican husbands in the town, that there were 
boats employed by the English to keep close to the 
beach near Quiberon, in the bay, by night; these 
boats were manned by, and belonged to, Breton 
loyalists, who took any loyalists who had made 
their escape from the republicans to the English 
squadron. I told a young emigrant, who was in 
the hospital, what I had learned from my country- 
women, taken prisoners with the loyalists who 
came fromEngland to Quiberon; and he asked me, 
if what had passed had not made me frightened 
enough to drop all thoughts of running away ; at 
which I only laughed, and told hhn, I would get 
among my own countrymen or lose my life. He, 
perfectly well knowing that I could get him safe 
through the Infirmary ward by night, desired me 
to be very particular in inquiring of the women, 
so that no mistake could be made. 


I learned for truth that the signld the loyalists 
made to the boats was by a flint and steely and, 
when on the beach, at the water's edge, to strike 
fire every now and then, but to be very particu- 
lar that the fire might not be seen on either side, 
along the Hhore, as the sentries were placed very 
near each other. After providing ourselves with 
a flint and steel, I passed the young emigrant 
through the wards and over the walls, and we set 
out with all speed, going all the night, which was 
very dark, until daylight, when we went into an 
old nunnery to hide ourselves during the day, 
being about two miles from the beach ; as soon as 
it was dark, we set out for the part of the beach, 
which we had seen best from the top of the nun* 
nery. As we saw no boat, in the day-time, near 
the shore, nor any one stirring about the beach 
but the sentries, we began to be doubtful of the 
truth of our information ; we went, however, up 
to our knees in the water, and managed to strike 
the light so that the sentries could not see it, and, 
in less than ten minutes, a boat came near enough 
to take us in without swimming. As soon as we 
were in the boat, the young emigrant told the 
Bretons who he was, and desired them to take him 
to the French loyalist general, Count d'Artois, on 
board the English transport 5 but the master of the 
boat told him that he expected some one else 


whom he had purposely come to look out for ; so 
we shoved off from the shore to a short distaiice, 
where we lay nearly an hour, when we saw a light 
struck very near the spot at which we were taken 
in. Tliey skulled the boat in close to the water's 
edge, being afraid to pull, as the sentries might 
hear them. They took in a priest and some other 
loyalist, and shoved off, and pulled us on board 
of a ekas8€-mar^. 

The next day, I was sent on board La Pomone^^ 
Commodore Sir John Warren, and, after telling aU 
the particulars to the captain, he ordered me into 
a mess* A few days after, the young emigrant 
oame on board of the commodore with some 
French gentlemen, and, seeing me stand on the 
gangway, he called me to him and privately g^ve 
me ten English guineas, and told me to write my 
direction in English, where I was bom, my father's 
name, &c., saying, ^^ If God is good, I will some 
day do good for you.'* 

I had not been long on board La Pomone, 
before I was sent on board a man of ws^ brig, a 
prize which we took on the coast. We were sent 
to Portsmouth, where I saw an officer who was in 
Quimper prison. He was taken in the Castor 
frigate, and then belonged to the Bellerophon, 
74, in dock, being the third lieutenant. As he 
knew me perfectly well, I applied to him to 

im OW NATHANin FEAKC£« 19 

get zne my wi^s for the Alert, which he readily 
did^ and he afterwards took me on board of the 
hulk to the first lieutenant, I was put on the 
Bellerophon's books, and ordered to do my duty in 
the main-top. 1 had before this time written to 
my father, who caune as usual with all speed. 

As it is too painful to me to give you any more 
particulars of my poor father's affection to me, I 
will make my letter as short as I can. I was not 
on board the Bellerophon more than six months, 
during which time we only went two cruizes, 
when I deserted at Portsmouth, and worked my 
passage to South Shields^ in a small brig, which 
had delivered her cargo of coals at Portsmouth. 
I again worked my passage in another brig from 
Shields to London, and, as soon as we were as far 
up the river as Gravesend, I sent a letter to my 
sister, who still lived in the Minories« She soon 
informed my father, and he again came to Wap- 
ping Old Stairs, in a hackney-coach, and took 
me to a friend of his in the City* I remained in 
London about three weeks. My poor old father, 
seeing me still wild, was advised to send me as far 
from home as possible; and, accordingly, he 
bought me a large chest of clothing and every 
necessary a seaman could want, and, being ac* 
quainted with some gentlemen in the India House, 
he got me on board the Thames East Indiaman, 


Capt. Williams, bound to China. On our passa^ 
to China I was taken very ill with the yellow 
jaundice, at St. Helena, but I soon got well. In 
our passage, we went through the Straits of Sunda, 
where we took a Malay prow belonging to the 
Dutch, from Batavia, laden with arrack. 

We put into Amboyna, where, going frequently 
on shore with the captain, as I belonged to his 
boat, or barge, I took a fancy to see in what man- 
ner these Malays lived in the country, or inland 
parts of the island, and, if possible, to live some 
time among them . Accordingly I, with two more, 
agreed to swim from the ship by night, to the 
opposite side from the garrison, which we did ; 
but, the great distance rendered us so weak that 
we could scarcely stand when we touched the 
bottom with our feet. We immediately set out 
from the beach inland, and at daylight arrived 
among some Malays, men and women, who were 
employed in packing up fruit to go to the town of 
Amboyna. We agreed to stop with these people 
for some time, and gave to the head man amongst 
them some money to go to the town to buy pro- 
visions and arrack. On his return we all sat 
down together, about thirty men and women, all 
nearly naked, and made a hearty feast ; after we 
had eaten our fill of rice and dried fish, we began 
to drink the arrack, which soon took effect on the 


Malays, and they b^an cutting extravagant ca- 
pers, as if they were mad, and soon brought five or 
six Dutch swords, swearing they would kill us, 
as, they said, we had only come to intrigue with 
their women. We, each having a large stick, 
that we had cut on our road, began to defend 
ourselves. I got a cut on the thigh from one 
of them, but the old or head man among them, 
seeing that we were overpowered, agreed to take 
us to the town and deliver us up to the gover- 
nor ; which they did, and we were conveyed 
down the jetty Mdth a guard of Sepoys, and sent 
on board our ship. We were immediately put 
into irons by Mr. Hall, the chief mate, and kept 
so until the ship sailed. As soon as the ship was 
under weigh, the hands were turned up to punish 
ment: accordingly, we were brought on the quar- 
ter-deck, and the captain said, " Mr. Clark," 
(when I deserted from the Bellerophon I changed 
my name to my mother's) " you are the leader, 
your father told me of your wild tricks — ^I for- 
give those two, and will touch you up and make 
you tame if your father could not." Accordingly 
I was tied up and received two dozen lashes; and 
my grog was stopped for one month. 

When we were at China, I went several times 
firom Wampo to Canton in the barge with the 
captain, and afterwards upon leave, to receive two 


months' pay at the factory, during which time I 
found some Armenians, who came into a China-- 
man's shop, while I was buying a sea stock of 
sugar. I asked those merchants where they camce 
from ; and they told me that the caravan they be- 
longed to went from China to Russia, and I 
begged of them to take me widi them, which they 
said they could not do. I then told them I would 
desert from the &ctory by night, and would ge 
with them as a servant, if they would take me ; 
but they positively denied that they dared take me 
with them. The Chinaman^j hearing all this, weat 
to the captain, and told him I wanted to desert ; 
so I was again made prisoner and punished as 
before, on board our ship, by tihe chief mate, who, 
having a great regard for me, spliced another 
dozen, which made three : he had also been .per- 
suaded by my father to tame me, if possible. 

On our homeward bound passage, we put into 
the Cape of Good Hope, where I left flie Thames 
and delivered myself up as a deserter, and went 
on board his Majesty's ship, the Sceptre, 64. 
Captain Williams, of the Thames, begged of the 
captain to return me, which he would have done, 
if I had not refused to go back, saying that I was 
a deserter from a king's ship. The captain said, 
** If you deliver yourself up as a deserter, I can- 
not send you back '" so I was put on the Seep- 


^re'fi books^ and ordered to do my duty on the 
forecastle. In a short time^ I was ordered into 
the captain's barge, as strokesman, and, when the 
coxswain was sick or on other duty, I often took 
hiB birth, and got greatly in favour with the 
captaiD, then Valentine Edwards. He very often 
tcdd me, when steering him on board, by night, 
in strong sonth-easters, in Table Bay, that, if I 
chose, he would make me a midshipman, and that 
his son should teach me navigation, but I always 
refused, saying, I was not fit for the office. 

We were ordered, by the admiral, to take part 
of the 84th regiment, with General Baird, to 
Madras) we first landed the troops at that place, 
and then took them on board again for Bombay, 
where our ship was put in dock, and the ship's 
cmnpany sent to Butcher's Island. During the 
time we were on the island, I heard a great many 
stosieB about the queen of Mahratta*, and a report 
was industriously spread among the ship's com- 
pany, that all Englishmen who deserted and went 
into her service were made officers, generals, 
colonels, captains, &c. &c. One evening, while 
we were sitting in the barracks, we were nine or 
ten in number, drinking bur day's allowance of 
grog, one of my messmates said, ^' We have been 

* This 18 probably a mistake for the head of the Mahratta 


long enough foremast- men ; it is almost time we 
should be officers, and if you have a mind to 
swear to be true to each other, we will be officers 
or lose our lives/*:^ Accordingly, seven of us in 
number took our o^ths to run away with the 
country boat, that I bought our provision from 
Bombay to the island, ind the next day we kept 
a good look-out, to see i^ what part of the beach 
they would anchor the toat for the night. At 
dark, we all swam to her, and, in cutting away 
her cable, wakened two l^ascars who were sleep- 
ing in her ; they soon gave the alarm, and our 
second lieutenant came with all speed, with a 
guard of marines, and fired three or four volleys at 
us, but to no effect : we were certain indeed that not 
one marine belonging to the ship would aim at us. 
As soon as we got about a mile from the island 
and close to the Isle of Elephanta, we hove the 
two Lascars overboard, so that they might swim 
on shore, for, if they had remained with us, they 
would have returned after we were landed, 'and 
given intelligence of what course we had taken. 

From the time we landed we were three days 
before we reached Poonah : on our approaching 
that capital we fell in with an English soldier, 
who was himself a deserter from the Honourable 
^ Company's Madras Artillery ; he had for some 
tinie been in the service of Holkar, and asked our 


intentions, which we soon told him, when, like a 
repenting sinner, he began a mournful story. He 
told us that he had been for some days very 
ill with the flux, had no hopes of getting better, 
and was going to deliver himself up to the English 
Resident, then Colonel Palmer. He gave us some 
friendly advice, and we then set out for Scindia's 
camp, with all speed, before we should be re- 
ported to the Resident: but, previously to our 
being introduced to the chief, or head general, I 
had seen enough of the miserable situation of the 
European o£Bicers, and persuaded the rest of my 
messmates to l^ave the camp, and, if possible, to 
shape our course for Goa, and get on board a 
Portugueze ship. We hesitated for some time 
before we agreed, considering that the distance 
was too great, without provisions, but at last we 
were determined, if possible, to weather it out, 
and we started : but, before we were more than 
three miles from the camp, the Resident's guard 
overtook us, and we were made prisoners and taken 
to the Resident's son. Captain Palmer, who ordered 
us into the guard-house. During this imprison- 
ment, the Resident and his son behaved more like 
fathers to their children than officers t^deserters; 
they filled our bellies with good victuals, and 
afterwards sent a letter of recommendation to our 
captain, begging him to forgive us. When we 

VOL. I. C 


itere sent to Bombay^ Captain Palmer came to 
see U6 start, with a strong guard of Sepoys, and, 
observing that our feet were cut and much hurt 
by thorns and stones, he gave every one of us a 
pair of shoes, but, most of us being so sorefooted, 
we carried the shoes in our hands. After the second 
day's march we fell in with an English officer, 
and some Sepoys, with English muskets, belong- 
ing to Scindia ; he told the Soubadar of our 
guard, that he had been to Pan well upon duty for 
Scindia : however, our guard greatly mistrusted 
him and took us to lodge as far as possible £rom 
him ; but, in the evening, he sent a boy in dis- 
guise to us, and he, talking very good English, 
delivered his message very plainly. He said tliat 
Colonel White told him to tell us to run away in 
the night and come to him, and then we should 
be safe enough, for, if we went to Bombay, we 
should be sure to be hung by sentence of a court- 
martial. He said he had formerly deserted from 
the Suffolk, 74 ; and two or three of my mess*- 
mates would have agreed, h^d not I and another 
sworn that we would rather be hung by our own 
countrymen than remain slaves among those black 
. We were therefore taken to Bombay, and put 
into the town-prison, our ship being then fitted 
out, and ready for sea. The captain came to see 


ufl in the prison, and said to me, '^ Mr. Clark, I 
had a better opinion of you," and he went on 
board and sent a guard of marines to fetch ua. 
As soon as we were on board, three of our partj, 
being old offenders, were put in irons, and ordered 
to prepare themselves for a court-martial ; we 
four were brought to the gangway, and punished 
with two dozen each, and were ordered to our 
duty as formerly. Our captain and o£Bicers were 
very good, and never kept this offence in their 
hearts; only sometimes, when I was to be at the , 
wheel, they would laugh and say, " Mr. Clark, 
you wanted to be a general aU at once.'' 

When w^ arrived at Madras, our three com- 
panions were tried by a court-m^^-rtial, on board 
the Suffolk, Admiral Rainier, and one, being an 
old offender, was sentenced to five hundred lashes 
from ship to ship, the other two, to one hundred 
and fifty each. . The day they were punished, we 
were also ordered into the launch, to be towed 
round the squadron with them; we would have 
?eadily agreed to take each thirty or forty lashes 
HI their stead, but we dared not say so. 

We afterwards sailed for the Cape, with a 
Convoy, and on our passage we burned a French 
pri?ateer brig, in the island of Rpdrigues, near 
tile isle of France. Soon after our arrival, the 
admiral, Neilson, being dead, we became commo" 
c 2 


dove, ours being the oldest captain. On the 5th 
of November, I believe— ^though I do not exactly 
recoUect that it was in the year 1796, but if you 
inquire of my brother Joseph for the exact dates, 
he will find them in my letters to my father — a 
very heavy north-west gale of wind came on, and 
such a heavy sea set into the bay, that the whole 
of the ships struck their topmasts and lower 
yards. We were at the same time refitting; 
however, to make short, we, soon after firing the 
salute for the 5th of November, began to part 
from our anchors, one after another, and then 
fron^ our guns, which we lashed with the kedge- 
anchors, and were driven on the beach. We were 
not on shore long before a heavy sea hove our 
ship broadside on into the heavy surf, and she 
soon began to go to pieces. After I had parted 
from the wreck, I was immediately struck sense- 
less by a spar, and all appeared like a dream to 
me, until I found myself in the hands of people 
rubbing my body before a large fire; we were 
between forty and fifty, who were saved out of the 
whole number of our crew, of four hundred, be- 
sides a number of invalids from India. Our poor 
captain, who behaved more like a father to the 
ship's company than otherwise, said, when we 
asked him, as he sat on the quarter-gallery while 
the ship lay on her beams, if we should try to save 


bim in the boat^ then not cut away from tht 
booms^ ^^ My dear fellows^ we are now all cap- 
tains alike^ and every one must do the best for 
himself/ ' These were the last words I ever heard 
him utter. Both he and his son, and every officer 
on board, were lost. Our first lieutenant, Mr. 
Pengelley, was on shore onJeave. In the morn- 
ing, after being taken from the beach, not quite 
sensible^ I was surprised when I found myself 
with several others in a Dutchman's oven. One 
of our party had died 5 we, who were saved, were 
sent ta the hospital. The second day after, I went 
to see if I could find out any of my messmates, that 
I might bury them separately, but every one was 
so much disfigured and bruised that I could not 
tell one from another : so they were buried like 
the rest, forty and fifty in one hole or grave, on the 
beach : but very few of them were brought to the 

We remained in the hospital until the Lan-> 
caster, 64, Admiral Sir Roger Curtis, arrived; 
when we were immediately sent on board her. 
I was again sent on shore, with Lieutenant Walker, 
who was afterwards drowned in Saldanha Bay, 
with a party of the Lancaster's crew, to get up the 
Sceptre's guns, &c. that lay in shallow water ; we 
were on shore about six weeks, and got up several 
of the guns and carriages, after which we went 


to cruize oflF the Isle of France. WhUe we lay off 
Port Louis^ an Amboyna ship came round Canno- 
nier Point, and got into the harbour in spite of us, 
although we fired several broadsides at her, and 
followed her so close in that the shells fell on all 
sides of us. This enraged our captain so much 
that he determined, if he lost eVery boat in the 
ship, to cut her out in the night. 

Accordingly, Mr. Gray, the first lieutenant of 
the Adamant, 50, and our first lieutenant, Mr. 
Macfarlane, and several other officers of both 
ships, commanded the boats, and we shoved off 
all together in a line, just as it was getting dark, 
and before we came within musket-shot it was so 
dark that we could scarcely see the boat astern of 
us. The governor, being doubtful of our intention, 
had sent a great many people on board the ship 
to get her close in, and also some soldiers to guard 
her : as soon as they heard the noise of our oars 
in the water, they began to fire like thunder at us, 
but, I believe, only two were wounded while in our 
boats. Our first lieutenant had his right arm 
broken, when boarding, with the blow of a hand- 
spike. We soon drove them in great confusion, 
some overboard and some below, but we had several 
wounded, and, as soon as the batteries were opened 
upon us, we got her head towards the harbour's 
mouth and put all sail on her, but, it being almost 


a calm^ we were obliged to tow her during the 
whole time, while the shot from the two batteries^ 
one on each side, were flying over us, though very 
little hurt was done. We had but two men killed 
outright, but several wounded : I was myself 
wounded in the loins by a splinter. We took our 
prize to the Cape, with several other prizes, and 
I was sent to the hospital, where I remained for 
five months before I recovered. 

During this time, our ship went to cruize oif the 
river La Plata. When she returned, I was sent 
on board of the Adamant, to go round to join her 
in False Bay. We soon after had the happy news of 
peace, and we all had hopes of once more being 
free in our own country. Some Dutch frigates 
arrived with a convoy of transports and troops for 
Batavia, and soon after, a Dutch squadron, with an 
admiral on board a 64, called the Pluto, came to 
relieve us. When the Dutch troops were landed, 
and the English troops embarked, a packet came 
about two hours before the keys of the castle were 
to be given up, with an order not to deliver up 
the Cape to the Dutch, there being still some' dis- 
pute to be arranged. Soon after our packet, a 
Dutch packet came, so we moored in a line along- 
side of the Dutch men of war, with our guns kept 
double- shotted. The day after the Dutch packet 
arrived, there was an order for fifty English sea- 


men to land from every ship^ to protect the garri- 
son^ and marines to man Amsterdam Battery^ the 
English transports having all sailed for India with 
the English troops. The seamen who were to be 
landed from our ship were chosen^ and caps were 
made of canvas, and blackened and shined, with 
the ship's name in the front, in white letters. I 
was ordered to act as serjeant-major over all the 
^small-armed party of seamen in the garrison; and 
the lieutenant, who was acting as our captain, gave 
me the privilege of seeing the provisions and wine 
served out, and all who went into the town, in 
their turns, upon leave, received a written pass 
from me. Shortly after a packet arrived, with an 
order to give up the Cape to the Dutch, and we 
were sent on board with our hearts full of joy, 
thinking we should once more sail for Old England, 
and be paid oflF; but how much were we surprised, 
when we saw the admiral's flag hoisted on board 
the Diomede, 50, and our captain and several 
others of the admiral's favourite officers go on 
board the Diomede, and Captain Fothergill come 
and take the command of us. However, we did not 
know the secret until we all got under weigh to- - 
gether. After we had passed Penguin Island, the 
admiral and his squadron kept on before the wind; 
the Tremendous, 74, hauled upon the wind to 
the southward, and we followed her example, the 



admiral still keeping his course, as well as the rest 
of the ships with him. Our ship's crew looked 
one at the other, as if they had lost their senses, 
saying, "Where are we going to now it*s peace f* 
However, this caused a great murmur in the ship's 
company, though nothing serious happened. 
When we arrived at Madras, we were told the 
whole; and the ship's crew soon began to be 
pacified and as happy as ever. After we had been 
some time atTrincomalee, in the island of Ceylon, 
and along the coast, a French squadron, under 
admiral Linois, arrived while we were in sight of 
Ppndicherry. The admiral got under weigh with 
the squadron to meet them, and saluted. Both 
squadrons anchored in the roads, while we were 
left as guardship higher up on the coast. One 
night, a schooner-trigged vessel passed us ; we 
hailed her, and she told us that she came from old 
France. We boarded in the guardboat, with the 
second lieutenant, Mr. Gilchrist 5 and I was ordered 
to go on board as interpreter ; we went with her, 
until we. brought-to alongside of our admiral. 
During the time we were on board of her, I learned 
from one of the foremast- men that war had again 
broken out, and that they had a packet on board 
for the French admiral Linois. I told Mr, Gil- 
christ of this, but he said we could do nothing 
without orders from England. The very same 
c 6 


nighty or the night after^ the whole French sqoad* 

ron slipped their cables^ and got clear out without 

ever being missed until daylight. We got under 

weigh in search of them^ and cruised in all parts 

where we were likely to find them. This cruise 

was a very unfortunate one ) a great number of 

our ship's company died with the scurvy, and 

scarcely hands enough remained to work her. 

The admiral gave up the cruise^ and we sailed far 

Bombay. I myself was so bad in the loins^ from 

my old wounds, that I could scarcely get up the 

hatchway-ladders. When we arrived in Bombay, 

the doctor ordered me to the hospital, with several 

of the ship's crew, and, after I had been there 

some time, an inspection was made of the sick 

and wounded in the hospital, and I was io* 


Shortly after, I began to get a great deal better, 
and, my wild tricks still haunting me, I tried to pass 
the sentry at the hospital gate without leave; the 
black Sepoy never said, " Where are you going?** 
or any thing else, but gave me a hard blow with 
the butt-end of his musket, which I soon toc^ 
from him, and, in the scuffle, broke his bayonet, 
and gave him a thump on the temple, so that he 
ffeU to the ground. The sergeant and the guard 
came running to his assistance, and I fought my 
way through them, until I got intp th^ wi^rd of the 


urnJids, where, the next day, a search was made 
for me, and the Sepoy sergeant told the head 
doctor that he could find me out by a cut on the 
thumb and shoulder that he had given me. As 
soon as he had found me out, a sentry was ordered 
to watch me in the ward, until some officers be- 
longing to the men of war should come. By this 
time the Lancaster, which had been in dock, had 
sailed, very happily for me, in the night. I pre- 
tended to have occasion to step out, which I did, 
and, while the sentry stood at the door, I got out 
of the window; the sentry at the gate was asleep, 
and I got through the small door without his 
hearing me. Being told that the sentry I had 
struck with the* butt of his own musket was 
Vkdj to die, I was very much alarmed, and made 
the affair known to Mr. Hall, an officer of the 
Honourable Company's marine, who took me on 
board the Antelope, and, for fear I should be 
known to any one by my name, I changed it to 
Franyois Dilvaro, and we sailed to Mangalore, to 
take on board Lord Viscount Valentia, with whom 
we sailed for the Red Sea. 

Dear sir, you know as well as I do every par- 
ticular after that tin^e. What I have written is 
all I can possibly recollect, but every word of it 
is real truth, and it may, perhaps, be the means 
of your not soon forgetting me. I hope you will 


always consider me as your servant^ though 
brought down to the very extremity thtough diar^ 
ease^ in a foreign land^ where charity, at the pre- 
sent time, is not known ^ for, believe me,i I shall 
always consider you as my master and only friexid 
in this world, and, if I never again may see you^ 
I shall die in the hope that God will comfort our 
souls in the world to come. I can assure you, 
that when I go near the. spot of ground where you 
last left me, not quite a mile from this, I often say 
in my heart, and sometimes to those that are with 
me, " This is the spot where I unwillingly took 
my last farewell of my poor friend, Mr. Salt^^* 
and a heavy shower of tears then runs from my 
eyes, as it does at this moment. I can assure you 
it was my wish to haiVe gone a greater distance 
with you, if I had not been persuaded otherwise. 
It is not pleasant for me to trouble you with 
any more at present > so 1 conclude,/ remaining^, 
until death. 

Your very aflSectionate and humble servanl^ 


P. S. If you fend any blunders in my writing, 
you must lay the fault to my eyes, which are so 
very weak that I can scarcely see to read what I 
have written, except it be early in the morning. 



For the remaiiider of the eventful life of thin 
singular and adventurous man the £ditor is in* 
debted to the kind information afforded him by 
Mr. Coffin^ who accompanied Pearce on his first 
toyage to Mocha; to Pearce's own narrative^ given 
m Mr. Salt's last Travels in Abyssinia; and finally^ 
to parts of the correspondence between that 
gentleman and Pearce. 

On the arrival of Pearce, in the Antelope, at 
Mangalore, Lord Valentia and his suite were 
taken on board, and the ship immediately pro- 
ceeded on her voyage to Mocha. On reaching 
that place, she remained a few days, to take in 
water, &c., and then pursued her course, on a 
survey of the coast of Africa, up the Red Sea, to 
Massowa, and so on to Suakin, where, an unfor- 
tunate misunderstanding taking place between 
lord Valentia and Captain Keys, the commander 
of the Antelope, the whole party returned to Mo- 
cha ; whence, after residing in the factory a few 
days. Captain Keys took his departure for Bom- 
bay; but Pearce, knowing the perilous situation 
he should be placed in on his arrival at that set- 
tlement, deserted from the ship, swam on shore 
in the night, surrendered himself to the Dola, 
and turned Mahometan. 

On the departure of the Antelope, Lord Valen- 
tia accepted the kind offer of Captain Vashon, of 


the Fox frigate^ to give his lordship a passage to 
Bombay ; but^ previously to the sailing of that 
ship^ his lordship^ Captain Vashon, his ofEicerd, 
and the English consul at Mocha, used the 
most strenuous endeavours to prevail on Pearce 
to return^ unfortunately, at that time, without 
success ; when his lordship went on board the 
Fox frigate, and proceeded on his voyage to. 
Bombay, where, after a full investigation of Cap- 
tain Keys's conduct, the Company's cruizer, the 
Panther, Captain Court, was ordered to proceed 
with his lordship again to the Red Sea, to com* 
plete the objects of his former voyage. 

A few days after the arrival of the Panther at 
Mocha, Pearce, who had meanwhile become 
heartily sick of his new religion and his resi- 
dence in Arabia, was met in the streets of Mocha 
by Mr. CoflBn, who asked him what he thought 
of his present situation ; to which he replied, he 
was heartily tired of it, and would give worlds to 
get away, begging Mr. Coffin to use all means in 
his power to get him removed from his forlorn 
and miserable condition. Mr« Coffin agreed, and, 
immediately on his return, communicated the 
poor fellow's despair and repentance to Lord Va- 
lentia and Captain Court ; who, sincerely com- 
passionating his situation, lost no time in taking 
such measures' as they judged most likely to^ 


ensure his escape.. Accordingly^ the night before 
the Panther sailed on her destination to Massowa^ . 
after a- previous communication with Pearce, a 
boat was sent, to be in waiting on a retired part . 
of the coast, as had been before arranged, to take 
him and several other English renegadoes on 
board. After the boat had waited some time^ 
Pearce and another came to the appointed place^ 
and were immediately taken to the ship, the 
hearts of the others having failed them. The 
next day, the Panther sailed to Massowa, where 
it was finally determined that the expedition to 
Abyssinia, which had been for some time in i^* 
tation, should be undertaken by Mr. Salt and 
Captain Rudland, accompanied by Pearce and 
some others. 

The proceedings of the party, during its 
stay in the country, being already before the 
public, it is only necessary to observe, that, 
under all the circumstances of his case, it was 
judged most advisable that Pearce should remain 
behind in the * country, not only as it accorded 
with his ovm wishes, but in many respects seemed 
likely to forward the views with which the expe- 
dition was originally undertaken. After leaving 
with him such necessaries and comforts as might 
be of service to him in the sequel, and strongly 
reconunending him to the kindness and attention, 


of the Ras of Tigr^, the party took their leave of 
him and returned to Massowa^ 

For some time subsequently to the departure 
of Mr. Salt from the country^ the Ras^ in his. 
treatment of Pearce^ appears to have religiously 
adhered to his promise of affording him his 
friendship and protection ; he was placed in the 
service of Ozoro Setches^ a lady of the highest 
rank, and the legitimate wife of the Ras, with 
whom he remained as a kind of confidential friend 
for about half a year, in the full enjoyment of 
her favour and countenance. Unfortunately, how- 
ever, the high estimation in which he was held 
both by that lady and the Ras excited the jea- 
lousy of some of the most influential chiefs at the 
court ; who, gradually instilling their own unjust 
prejudices into the mind of the Ras, induced him 
to treat Pearce with indifference and neglect, and 
to deprive him of many of the privileges which 
had previously been granted to him. The natural 
turbulence of Pearce's spirit was ill calculated to 
support, with the requisite patience, this change 
in his situation and circumstances, and led him 
to remonstrate on the occasion, with a degree of 
violence that lost him, for a time, the favour of 
the Ras, and reduced him to a state of absolute 
dependence upon some of the young chieftains of 
the court. 


During this temporary disgrace^ he judiciously 
employed his time in acquiring a knowledge of 
the Tigr^ language, which, he wisely judged, 
could alone enable him to get the better of his 
enemies, whenever a fair field should open to him 
for the display of his zeal and ability. An occa- 
sion of this nature shortly occurred, in March 
I8O7, when a powerful league was formed, by 
many of the most formidable chiefs in the in- 
terest of the descendants of Has Michael, for the 
destruction of Has Welled Selass^ ; who, raising 
a powerful army to oppose the insurgents, quickly 
reduced them to unconditional submission : but, 
before the affair was finally concluded, an oppor- 
tunity was afforded to Mr. Pearce of displaying 
his courage and fidelity. While the negociations 
for peace were going on, a plot had been formed 
^ some of the hostile chiefs to bum the Ras at 
Ws quarters in Adowa, where he lay, in the full 
confidence of victory, at some distance from his 
*nny and very slenderly attended. The scheme 
had nearly succeeded, and part of the premises 
were already in flames, when Mr. Pearce, who 
was encamped with the army outside of the town, 
wing awakened by the glare of light, seized his 
JHusket, and, hastening to the spot, rushed un- 
dauntedly through the flames, to the assistance 
of the old man 3 when the fire was shortly after 


extinguished^ and the chiefs implicated in the 
ph>t were taken^ in a great degree through the in- 
strumentality of Pearce, and punished. The ccm- 
rage and promptitude he evinced on this occasion 
restored him to the favour of the Ras^ who gave 
him a white mule^ encreased his allowances^ and 
appointed him to the honour of attending Ozoro 
Turinga, a sister of the Ras^ with an escort, back 
to Antillo. 

This favourable state of affairs, however, was 
not of long duration: the jealousy of his enemies 
and his own impetuous temper quickly brought 
on an absolute rupture between him and the Ras; 
and he threatened to go over to his great enemy, 
Gojee, which so incensed the old man, that he 
told him, though he would prevent his putting 
that plan in execution, yet he might go any 
where else he thought proper, provided he never 
appeared in his presence again. In consequence 
of this dispute, Pearce left Antaio, and for some 
time led a kind of wandering life in different 
distiicts of Abyssinia and some of the bordering 
countries, where he was generally received vrith 
kindness and hospitality, till he determined, at 
length, to' shape his course to Samen, and visit 
Ras Guebra, the powerful governor of that pro- 
vince. During the journey he passed over the 
summit of the lofty mountain Amba Hai, which 


he found tremendoii3ly difficult in the. ascent, and^ 
after descending gradually on the other side for 
about five hours^ arrived at Inchetkaub^ the capi- 
tal of Ras Guebra, by whom he was hospitably 
received^ and kindly advised to return to Ant&lo, 
and make up matters with the Ras, though for 
that time without success. Shortly after his 
arrival at Inchetkaub, he was attacked by an in- 
flammation in his eyes, greatly resembling oph- 
thalmia, which nearly confined him to his bed, 
and was probably occasioned by the glare of the 
snow, to which he had been exposed in passing 
over the high mountains of Samen. While lying 
in this miserable state, he was visited, in the ab- 
sence of his servants, by a woman with whom he 
had formerly been well acquainted. She brought 
a young man with her whom she called her bro- 
ther, and both expressed so much joy at seeing 
Pearce, and appeared so sincerely to commiserate 
his situation, that he was quite overcome by the 
interest they took in his welfare. The conclusion, 
however, of the affiiir, was not quite so agreeable^ 
as he discovered, soon after their departure, upon 
the return of his servants, that they had plun- 
dered him of every thing he possessed, except his 
musket, which lay under his pillow, and the gar- 
ments which he wore. The woman, being taken 
a day or two afterwards, ^confessed the robbery. 


and several articles were recovered; but the 
greater part, together with his Journal, had been 
carried off by her companion, who effected his 

The loss he had thus sustained, joined to the 
weak state of his health, made Pearce give up the 
idea of advancing farther into the country 3 and^ 
hearing about this time, from some of his Tigr^ 
friends, that the Galla, under Gojee, had advanced 
to attack the Ras Welled Selass^, as far even as 
Antklo, he determined to forget all past misun- 
derstandings and hasten to the assistance of his 
former master. In this generous, and, as it after- 
wards turned out for him, fortunate, resolution, he 
was supported by Ras Guebra 5 who, on parting 
with him, in December 1807, made him some 
handsome presents, and sent with him one of his 
confidential messengers, to speak in his favour to 
Ras Welled Selass^. After taking his leave, Mr. 
Pearce proceeded rapidly on his journey, till he 
reached the banks of the Tacazz^ ; where, owing 
to the swollen state of the river, some delay oc- 
curred in crossing it; but the passage was at 
length accomplished with great difficulty, and 
the party, on the 29th of December, reached the 
neighbourhood of Antklo. As Pearce and his 
companions advanced, they found the country in 
great alarm at the near approach of Gojee, who 



had gained possession of a large portion of Lasta, 
and was within a day's march of £nderta. This 
intelligence caused Pearce to hasten his progress^ 
and he reached the gateway of the Ras early on 
the morning of the 30th. 

On his arrival, many of the chiefs expressed 
their- astonishment at seeing him^ and strongly 
urged him not to venture into the presence of the 
Ras ; but Pearce felt too proudly conscious of the 
motives that prompted him to return to feel any 
apprehension, and requested an audience of the 
Ras, to which he was immediately admitted. As 
he approached the old man, he thought he saw, 
as he expresses it, ^' something pleasant in his 
countenance,'' as he turned to one of his chiefs, 
and said, pointing to Pearce, ^' Look at that man ! 
he came to me a stranger, about five years ago, 
and, not being satisfied with my treatment, left 
me in great anger ; but now that I am deserted 
by some of my friends, and pressed upon by my 
enemies, he is come back to fight by my side." He 
then, with tears in his e^es, desired Pearce to sit 
down, ordered a cloth of the best quality to be 
thrown over his shoulders, and gave him a mule 
and a handsome allowance of com for his sup- 

Soon afterwards, the Ras, having assembled 
his army, marched against the enemy, and, after 

i '- 


some skirmishing and shew of negociation, Gcyee 
shifted his ground to the plains of Maizella, which 
he had determined should be the place of action^ 
and the Ras took up his station close to the Ain 
Tacazz^ for the night. In the morning, a last 
attempt was made by the Ras for an accommo- 
dation, w|iich was haughtily rejected by Gojee, 
and both parties prepared for a decisive engage- 
ment on t^e following morning. In the action 
that ensued; the Ras appears to have arranged his 
forces with considerable skill, but the impetuous 
charge of the Galla upon his centre, where he 
commanded in person, forced it to give way. 
The Ras, enraged at the sight, called for his 
favourite horse, which was held back by his chiefs, 
who felt anxious for his personal safety, when 
the old man urged his mule foirward and galloiped 
to the front ; where, by his conspicuous appear- 
ance and gallant demeanour, he quickly infused 
fresh energy into his troops and retrieved the 
fortune of the day. On this critical occasimi, 
Pearce was among the first in advance, and the 
Ras, seeing him in the thick of the fight, cried out, 
*^ Stop, stop that madman !*' but he called in vain. 
Pearce dashed on, killed a Galla chief of some 
consequence, and by his courage throughout the 
day gained the admiration of all around him. 
Gojee himself escaped with difficulty, ud his 



whole army was totally routed. In the counse of 
the many desperate enterprises in which the Has 
was engaged subsequently to this celebrated vic- 
tory, Pearce, who always accompanied him, had 
seFeral opportunities of distinguishing himself and 
of establishing a high character for intrepidity and 

After this harassing campaign, the Ras re- 
turned in triumph to Antklo, where he and some 
of the principal chiefs shewed Pearce the highest 
marks of their favour and admiration. The 
blessings of peace succeeded for a time the hor- 
rors of war ; and about this period Pearce mar- 
ried a pleasing girl, the daughter of an old Greek, 
named Sidee Paulus : but this tranquillity was of 
short duration. Subegadis and his brothers re- 
used, early in 1809, to pay their customary 
tribute, and otherwise forced the Ras into a diffi- 
cult and predatory war among the mountains, 
which furnished Pearce with fresh opportuni- 
ties for signalizing his activity and personal 

On one of these occasions, he would have in- 
entably lost his life but for the generosity of one 
of his opponents. He had been ordered, with 
some of the Ras's people, to seize a number of 
^ttle, known to be concealed in the neighbour- 
nood, and the party succeeded in securing above 


three hundred; but, owing to 'a stratagem of 
Guebra Guro's, one of the brothers of Subegadis, 
he lost a number of men in the enterprise. This 
chief and about fourteen of his best marksmen 
had placed themselves, in a recumbent posture, 
on the brow of an inaccessible rock, whence they 
picked off every man who ventured within musket- 
shot. At one time, Pearce was so near this dan- 
gerous position, that he distinctly heard Guebra 
Guro order his men not to fire either at him, 
Pearce, or at Ayto Tesfos ; calling out to them, 
at the same time, ^^ to keep out of the range of 
his matchlocks, as he was anxious no personal 
harm should happen to his friends/' The Ras, 
finding he could make little or no impression - 
upon the wary enemy he had to encounter, burnt 
the town of Makiddo, and returned with his army 
to Adowa. 

On his arrival at that place, Pearce received a 
letter from Captain Rudland, the £ast India Ck>m- 
pany's agent at Mocha, dated May l/th, 1809, 
requesting him to go down to Bur^, where he 
would meet him. This promise, however, it ap- 
pears that gentleman was unable to perform ; and, 
on Pearce's reaching the coast, he found himself 
almost alone in the midst of a barbarous and san- 
guinary race, and nearly without money, provi- 
sions, or protection. 



In this deplorable state he remained till the 
20th of July^ when^ from the want of food^ he 
was forced to dismiss the Abyssinian escort that 
had accompanied him^ and to wait patiently for 
the arrival of Captain Rudland^ with only four 
servants ; all of whom, with himself^ would pro- 
bably have perished from want^ had it not been 
for the kindness of the master of an Arabian 
dow^ who humanely supplied the party with 
some zvwarry and dates in exchange for a bill on 
Mocha. After remaining in this impleasant situa- 
tion for some time^ and narrowly escaping from 
a plot laid against his life^ he was, at lengthy 
relieved in some measure, by the arrival of a 
dow from Mocha, with Mr. Benzoni on board, 
who persuaded him, much against his will, to take 
diarge of a cargo of goods for Abyssinia, through 
the barbarous tribes, of whose want of hospita- 
lity and good faith he had already had so bitter 
an experience. Before Mr. Benzoni took leave 
of Pearce, he made him some useful presents, and 
gave him a hundred dollars ; of which, however, 
from the circumstance having transpired, he was 
completely stripped by the cupidity of the savage 
borderers, before he reached the frontiers of 

The articles placed under his charge were very 
near sharing the same fate, and, on one occasion 

VOL. I. D 


in particular^ he was obliged to protect them^ at 
the hazard of his life, by shooting one of his 
treacherous conductors. LuckUy for Pearce^ he 
had then entered the frontiers of Abyssinia, and 
the report of his blunderbuss brought the people 
of the district aroimd him, when his villanoua 
guides, with their wounded companion, fled in 
great alarm, and Pearce proceeded, without farther 
molestation, on his route to Chelicut; where the 
sagacity, intrepidity, and talent, he had displayed, 
throughout the whole of the expedition, secured 
him a most flattering reception. 
. A few months after these transactions, Mr. 
Salt arrived in the Red Sea, upon his second mis- 
sion to Abyssinia, and it was probably fortunate 
for him that Pearce's journey had been com- 
pleted before his arrival in those parts; as.he had, 
at first, determined upon following the same 
route, in preference to his former one by Mas- 
sowa, till he received letters from Pearce, strongly 
dissuading him from making an attempt, which 
sad experience had taught the latter to be fraught 
with almost insurmountable difficulties and dan- 
gers. The receipt of this intelligence induced 
Mr. Salt to alter his intention, and he, in conse- 
quence, steered his course to Massowa, where he 
was joined by Pearce and Ito Debbib, with a 
party of Abyssinians^ on the IDth of February,.. 


1810^ and proceeded, without any serious acci- 
dent, to the Raa's residence at Chelicut. 
. From circumstances related in bis Travels, Mr. 
Salt's stay in Abyssinia was only of abort dura- 
tion, and, after remaining a few montbs, he bade 
a final adieu to the country, leaving behind him 
with Pearce the supercargo of the ship, Mr. 
Coffin, to whose voluntary zeal, promptitude, and 
courage, the whole expedition, on its first arrival 
at Amphila, had been greatly indebted. Previ- 
ously to Mr. Salt's departure, he strictly enjoined 
Pearce to keep a regular journal of passing 
events, and of the adventures in which he might 
be engaged — ^a request with which, in spite of 
the subsequently distracted state of the country, 
Pearce appears generally to have complied. 

The result of his industry is now, for the first 
time, submitted to the public; and to it the rea- 
der is referred for such particulars of the Author's 
life as occurred between the years 1810 and 
1819, when he arrived at Cairo* On his reaching 
that city, after having encountered many diffi- 
culties and perils, both by sea and land, he found 
that Mr. Salt was absent on an excursion into 
Upper Egypt ; and, being anxious to meet him 
with the least possible delay, he set off on a 
voyage up the Nile, in search of his friend-and 
benefactor : the meeting between them is not 
n 2 


described in the Journal^ which breaks off very 
abruptly;, but it appears^ from some ori^nal 
letters^ that he was received by Mr. Salt with 
that warm-hearted kindness and liberality, which 
ever distinguished the character of that benevo^ 
lent and lamented individual. 

The conclusion of Pearce's history may be 
briefly told. On his return to Cairo, he was en- 
trusted with the entire direction of Mr. Salt's 
household, when the duties of the Consulship de* 
manded the attendance of the latter in other 
stations ; a capacity in which he appears to have 
surpassed the expectations of his master, by his 
economy and general management of the estab- 
lishment. During his short residence at Cairo 
in this situation, he arranged and wrote his Jour- 
nal from the various documents he had brought 
with him, or from time to time forwarded from 
Abyssinia to Mr. Salt. It will be seen by ex- 
tracts from letters still in existence, inserted by 
Mr. Salt in his Appendix, how highly he esti- 
mated the Journal as a faithful, characteristic, and 
animated description of the customs, manners, 
and laws, of the Abyssinian people, and which, 
it is greatly to be regretted, his ill state of health, 
domestic misfortunes, and the augmentation of 
his official duties, prevented him from personally 
inspecting, according to his expressed intention. . 


Besides the Journal^ Pearce was at this time 
employed by the Rev. Mr. Jowett in translating 
portions of the New Testament in the Tigrtf 
language^ for the use of the Church Missionary 
Society^ and at one time he had^ imder the au* 
spices of Mr. Salt, actually set out on a journey 
to Jerusalem with Mr. Jowett, which^ however, 
from some cause that does not appear^ was sub- 
sequentiy abandoned. 

The chequered life of this remarkable individual 
was now fast drawing to a close. In the early 
part of the year 1820, Mr. Salt, having some ar- 
ticles of consequence, which he wished to have 
safely conveyed to England, and having previ- 
ously been informed that the R. prefixed to 
Pearce's name at the Admiralty had been erased, 
through the kind interference of the Earl of 
Mountnorris, Sir Joseph Banks, and the Right 
Honourable Charles Yorke, thought the oppor- 
tunity a favourable one for the return of the 
wanderer to his native land. A passage wa« 
accordingly secured for him, in a ship that was 
about to sail in a few days, and every accommoda- 
tion provided, when he caught a violent cold, 
which, being greatly aggravated by the mistaken 
and somewhat intemperate use of brandy, quickly 
turned to a raging fever, with which his consti- 
tution, long debilitated by hardship and disease. 


was wholly unequal to struggle^ and which car- 
ried him offy at Alexandria, early in June^ 1820, 
at the age of about 41 years. A short time pre- 
viously to his dissolution, he made his will^ in 
which, he bequeathed his Jotimal, and the whole 
of his papers, to Henry Salt, Esq., one of his 
executors, who presented the former and many 
of the latter to the Ead of Mountnorris, to whose 
kindness and friendship the Editor is indebted 
for the possession of the Journal. 




Ras Welled Selass^ — Sabmission of Guebra Garo, and his bro- 
thers, Snbegadis, Sardie, and Agoos, to the Ras — ^They again 
rebel — Unite with the Gasmati Ischias, Ras Michaers grand- 
son, and other chiefs, to take the province of Tigr6 — Are driven 
by the Ras*s troops across the river Tacazz4 — ^Visit of Ras Ilo ; 
his recepti(Hi at Chdiicat— Raa Welled Selass^ takes the field 
against the Rebels — ^Mountain of Ambaarra, a stronghold of Sa- 
begadis-^He is dislodged from it — Preparations for War with 
Grnxo — ^The Grnsmarsh Salada — ^Defeat of Goxo's army — Gojee 
— ^His barbarity — Guebra Guro again makes his submission — 
Forged Letter respecting Pearce and Coffin — Reports concern- 
ing a white Traveller — Displeasure of the Ras with Pearoe, and 
reconciliation — Present to the Ras from the King of Shoa — 
Battle between Bahamegash Subhart and Shum Woldi — Death 
of Nebrid and Funeral Ceremonies — ^Tusfa Mariam, one of the 
Ras's Chiefs, surprised by Subegadis and slain — Operations of 
Guxo — Guebra Guro confined — Subraissicm of the Gusmati 
Ischias and other rebel Chiefs — Ravages of the "Small-pox — 
Superstitions of the Abyssinians in regard to Diseases. 

At the latter end of May, 1810, Ito Subegadis, 
and Guebra Guro, under pretence of making it up 
with Ras Welled Selass^, against whom they 
had rebelled, sent to him their brother, w:hose 
name was Sardie, and who, throughout the re- 
bellion, had been with the Ras, and was a great 


favourite with him^ to declare, that if the Has 
would share the country belonging to their father, 
between the four sons, viz. Subegadis, Sardie, 
Guebra Guro, and Agoos, they would come in to 
him; to which he, the Ras, agreed. Accordingly, 
Guebra Guro arrived, on the 6th of June, at 
M ucculla, and came before the Ras, with a stone 
upon his neck, which is customary on such occa- 
sions, and the Ras forgave him. His brother, 
Subegadis, was left at home, under pretence 
of illness, but it was soon ascertained to be a mere 
feint, for carrying on, with the less suspicion, his 
&rther rebellious practices; while his brother, 
Guebra Guro, being then with the Ras, and in 
apparent amity, served as a blind to the intended 

This last notorious rebel twice visited the Ras, 
who gave him a shummut or district, aiid treated 
him with great attention. One day, while he was 
at Chelicut, there was a great feast among the 
priests of the Ras's church at that place, in the 
Ras's presence, and at his house; when, after 
eating and drinking till the priests began to be 
merry and dance in their usual fashion, some of 
the Ras's soldiers, being pretty merry also, from 
the quantity of maize they had drunk, began to 
exhibit before their master, in the Abyssinian 
fashion, and to boast of their prowess, and the 



great feats they had done^ and would do, in his 
service. Among the rest, Guebra Guro started up^ 
with his shtUtle, or knife, drawn, and a brufy or 
goblet of maize in his hand, saying, ^' Hold your 
tongues ! by the Ras's flesh, I am Guebra Guro, 
I am a lion, I am a slave to the Badinsah/' 
Having made an end of his boasting, he said, " I 
have been a rebel these two years against my 
master ; but, for the time to come, if ever I be- 
have otherwise than as a slave to the Badinsah, 
I am no longer a Christian, in which faith I was 
bred and bom;" then, catching hold of his martab^ 
or the blue thread round his neck, which distin- 
guishes a Christian, he cut it in two, adding that 
he hoped he might be cut down, as he had cut 
his martab, if he did not behave as he had pro- 
mised ; at which the Ras's people were very much 
pleased and gave him great applause. 

Next day we went to Ant&lo, where the Has 
gave Guebra Guro a very handsome matchlock 
and a horse; he also showed him the presents 
brought him from England by Mr. Salt. After 
taking leave of the Ras, Guebra returned with me 
and Mr. Coffin to Chelicut, and it being on his 
road home, he stopped at my house about three 
hours, ate and drank with us, and afterwards 
began to discourse about the tlas going to war 
with the Amhara. He said, that, if it so hap- 
D 5 


pened, he should wish to swear us beforehand to 
be to him as brothers ; that he would provide us 
with honey, flour, and sheep, for the expedition > 
and that we should find powder and shot. To get 
rid of our troublesome friend, I told him, that^ 
though we never swore upon such occasions in 
our country, yet, that if once we said the thing, 
we would stand, to it. He then begged a little 
powdler of me and took his leave. 

This was on Thursday, and, on the Thursday in 
the following week, news was brought to: the Ras^ 
that Subegadis and Guebra had raised a strong 
army of rebels, bound their brother Sardie, and 
fought against the country of Derra, and taken 
the chief of that district, named Abba GolanL 
Carsu, besides killing a great number of people^ 
and burning several towns and villages. Abba 
Golam Carsu is accounted a very hard-fighting 
and brave Abyssinian, but was. overpowered by 
Subegadis and his brothers. The Ras was very 
much concerned about him; at the same time the 
Gusmati Ischias, Ras Michael's grandson, -who 
never had been quiet three years together since 
the commencement of Ras Welled Selass^'s go- 
vernment, from the notion that he himself was 
best entitled to be Ras, appeared also in rebellion, 
and joined Nebrid Aram, formerly governor of 
the province of Adowa,.and a servant to the Ras, 


who had previously taken up arms. These two 
chiefs, together with Palambarus Guebra Amlac; 
and Shum Temben, settled that Subegadis should 
meet them at Adowa, where they were to tmite 
and take the whole of Tigr^, and that Guxo was 
to come from Gondar^ and join them to take 

Ras Welled Selass^ was at first for marching to 
Tigre himself, had he not been prevented by his 
Blitingatore, Woldi Gorgis, and Palambarus 
Toclu, who sent him word that it was not worth 
his while to trouble himself about such rebels as 
those, since they, with the .other chiefs of Tigr^, 
who still remained friends to him, together with 
his troops then in Tigr^, would be enough to 
destroy, or otherwise drive them out of the coun- 
try ; to which the Ras agreed, and stopped ac- 
cordingly at Antfdo. Before the two parties 
of rebels could join, the Ras's forces had pursued 
the Gusmati Ischias and his associates, till they 
found them encamped near Axum, in the plain> 
called Attsowo; these, finding that the Ras's 
troops were too strong for them^ made off, with 
some loss, to the other side of the Tacazz^, 
whither they had previously sent the cattle they 
had plundered in that part of Tigr^. 

They also met with the Walkayt Negadi 
^floy which they plundered of a very great quan- 


tity of elephants' teeth^ and a thousand pieces of 
Walkayt cloth^ cotton^ &c. Being followed by 
the Ras's troops^ they made bat a short resistance^ 
on the bank of the Tacazz^, and then fled across 
the river^ qute out of the Ras's dominions. The 
Ras's troops encamped there^ rioting upon their 
plunder^ until the rebels were quite distressed for 
want of provisions ; when they were glad to. retire 
to Waldubba, \^here they remained till the Gus- 
marsh Guxo sent his head general^ or Gusmardb, 
Ackly Marro^ to meet them^ by whom they were 
kindly received at Wogara^ and thence conveyed to 
Guxo^ who was then in Gondar. He received them 
very honourably^ and afterwards reviewed their 
troops^ telling them not to fear^ as by the montb 
of Tesas^ or December^ he would give them Tigr^, 
Enderta^ and all the Ras's dominions^ and then 
ordered them^ namely^ to Gusmati Ischias one 
hundred chums of com^ which is eight hun* 
dred bushels; the same to Nebrid Aram; fifty 
chums to Palambarus Guebra Amlac^ and fifty 
to Nebrid Aram's wife, Ozoro Wolleta Michael^ 
daughter of Ito Debbib, Ras Welled Selass^'s 
younger brother, though as great a rebel as her 

During this time, Ras Ilo, of Lasta, came upon 
a visit to Ras Welled Selass^, at Chelicut ; I and 
Mr. Cofi&n went on horseback to meet him^ but 


ire returned at full speedy having received a mes- 
sage from the Ras^ who desired us to proceed bb 
fast as possible to Chelicut^ and have a salute 
ready for Ras Ilo^ on his entrance into that place* 
At his aifival^ he was saluted with five guns^ 
in the English fashion^ hy me and Mr. Coffin, 
with one of the three-pounders brought into the 
country by Mr. Salt, the other being at Mucculhi* 
When be had approached within five hundred 
yards^ we began, and fired five times with English 
cartridges^ before the party could advance half 
way. Indeed, Ras Ilo was so struck by the un- 
expected explosion, that, had he not seen our old 
Has ride on the quicker, I believe he would have 
gone back. It gave him great surprise to behold 
the rapidity with which we could load and fire, 
as his attendants could not have loaded and 
fired a noatchlock even twice in the same space of 
time. The Ras, in the course of the same day, 
^)egged us to show them the English exercise, at 
which I professed myself a good hand ; the mo- 
tions I first went through, and the discharging 
of five or ten cartridges as quick as possible 
astonished Ras Ilo and his attendants. Ras Ilo 
had never seea a cannon in his life before, and 
seebg it run, with its utensils, &c.> on its car- 
Tis^e, he was quite astonished, and said, in a low 
tone, '^ I thought there was no country like our 


own for instruments of war, but I now find I was 

This chief remained some time at Chelicut ; it 
appeared that he was alarmed by Guxo, \frhq had 
threatened him as well as the rest. The Ras^ 
on his departure, performed shillimho, that is^ 
dressed him out very fine in silks, a regular cus- 
tom upon such visits. He also gave him five 
handsome matchlocks, and four large and two 
small Turkish and Persian carpets, of great value 
in this country. After Ras Ilo had taken leave 
of the Ras, he gave me a mule and a good sheep- 
skin dress, and a sheepskin to Mr. Coffin, with 
promises of future friendship ; he left Chelicut 
on the 3d of July. The Ras remained there for 
some time afterwards, and then went to Antido. 
On hearing that Subegadis wbs plundering and 
destroying all the neighbouring countries^ and 
that nobody could face him, he ordered all to be 
got ready against Kudus Yohannis, or St. John's 
day, which is the first day of M ascarram, or Sep- 
tember, and the drum was beaten in the market- 
place, to order all Enderta, Giralta, Temben, 
Saharte, Overgalle, Bora, Salora, Dova, Wojjerat, 
Womburta, Dacer, &c., to be ready at that time^ 
and join him at Aggulah. Tigr^ and Shir^ were 
left to take care of the country, against the 
other rebels, who had gone to the Amhara. 


I and Mr. Coffin went with the Raa and his army 
to MuccuUa^ taking our horses, arms, &c., with 
provisions necessary for the campaign. 

When ive joined the army, on the Thursday 
following, the Ras was very much displeased at 
not finding all his chiefs, as he expected ; but, on 
our march, the next day, he became better satis* 
fied, on seeing his troops hourly joining him by 
thousands. About four thousand horse and thirty 
thousand foot joined him, that evening, at Arra* 
mat; the whole of the musketry amounted to 
about eleven hundred, the remainder were spear 
and shield men. 

The next day we marched to Aggulah, where 
we stopped tmtil Monday; the Abyssinians, 
from motives of piety, never marching on a Sun* 
day or on any holy days with an army. From Aggu- 
lah, we advanced to Adegraat, in the country of 
Agam^, where Subegadis, hearing of the Ras's 
approach, immediately fled. When we had de- 
stroyed all the corn, and burned every town and 
village in that part, we marched to Asuffa, where 
Subegadis had been the night before, but left it 
as the Ras approached. 

We stopped here six days, imtil our cattle hitd 
consumed all the green com, and then marched 
to Gundegunde, at which place stands, as the 
natives report, one of the most ancient churches 


in Abyssinia, named Redan-er-merrit. Thong^b it 
is in the Taltal country^ the priests defend it 
easily, as the ascent to it is so steep that one 
man could defend it against a thousand. Tliis 
church it is superstitiously believed in the country- 
was built by God ; in it a large book is preserved 
that is held in great veneration, and is said to 
have been written by order of queen Helena, or 
Eleanor, We here learnt that Subegadis had 
taken to his strong mountain-hold close byi 
where he meant to give battle to the Ras, if he 
dared to approach, thinking it impossible that so 
strong a position could be stormed. 

This mountain is called Ambaarra, and it is one 
of the highest I have seen in Abyssinia. Amba 
Hai and Behader may be seen from its summit i 
and^ from the other side, the sea^ which, I sup- 
pose, may be about six or seven leagues distant. 
It is very difficult of ascent, and, as no mules can 
go up it, we stopped,, and encamped at Gunde- 
gunde, imtil the 13th of September. Very early 
that morning, we began to march towards the 
foot of the mountain, the Ras having sent for- 
ward a storming party at midnight^ unknown to 
most of his chiefs. 

About eight o'clock, we arrived at the foot of 
the mountain, when, alighting from our mules, I 
sent them back to the camp. The road we came 



upon our mules was a very steep hill. We now 
began to climb the height^ and could pliunly hear 
the storming party^ which the Ras had sent under 
the command of Chellica Woldi Michael^ one of 
his favourites^ engaging the enemy ; a continual 
fire of muskets being kept up above us. I and Mr. 
Coffin began to ascend long before the Ras ; and 
canie, in about an hour, to the spot, where we 
foimd Subegadis enjoying the pleasure of picking 
off the Ras's soldiers as he thought proper, 
ahhough they were more than one himdred feet 
above him. It was impossible to see any of his 
men, the loose rocks and the entrenchments he 
bad made being covered with the trunks of laige 
trees, which had been cut down for that purpose; 
^d the steep precipice, opposite to which they 
stood, would not permit above one or two at a 
time to be lowered down to attack them; in at- 
temptmg which, they were shot by Subegadis's 
soldiers and rolled down to the foot of their en- 

I and Mr. Coffin stood among the Ras's sol- 
ders, thinking we might get a shot through the 
boles, whence the fire of the rebels was directed ; 
W,, finding it of no use, and that it was impossible 
to see any thing but solid rocks and entrench- 
inents to fire at, and about fifteen men being 
^^b^ady killed close to us, we sat ourselves down 


in a secure place until the Rae should come up. 
Upon his approach, the soldiers came running 
and roaring like wild beasts, firing sometimes a 
hundred muskets together, though there ^wbs 
nothing to direct their aim but the smoke of the 
enemy's guns. Subegadis, however, finding him- 
self short of powder, and seeing that as fast 
as his enemies were killed others advanced 
nearer and nearer, and having besides no water^ 
began to be alarmed for the situation he held^ 
lest he should be surrounded, and t&erefore 
made his retreat up the mountain opposite to 
us, where he again fought very hard, and killed 
great numbers as they attempted to ascend ; but, 
our troops being so numerous, he was obliged to 
fly, four of his bravest officers being killed, and a 
great number of his men cut off. Our troops 
were now so thoroughly wearied, that it was im- 
possible for us to follow much farmer ; and 
Subegadis himself was so worn out with fatigue, 
that he was obliged to drop his shield to one of 
the Ras's soldiers, who was within ten yards 
of him, and the latter was so tired that he could 
pursue no farther. 

The rocks were indeed so very steep that, in 
order to descend them, we were obliged at times 
to go upon our hands and feet, and to creep 
down backwards ; which enabled Subegadis, with 


his brothers and a number of soldiera^ to escape^ 
and take refuge near the sea-coast^ in the country 
of the Taltals or Bedouins. The Ras^ being very 
amdous to follow^ we kept descending until 
evening, when we stopped, not more than half- 
way down the mountain, for the night. There 
the Ras took up his quarters between two large 
pieces of rock : while I and Mr. Coffin slept with 
his guards, lying round him in a circle. 

In the morning, we again began to descend, the 
Ras being obliged to go on foot, as well as 
ourselves, until we reached the wilderness; below 
which we pursued the tired rebels until night. 
Some of the Fit-aurari's soldiers killed a few, 
who were wearied almost to death, and took two 
h\mdred head of cattle, which they killed and left 
behind, being too tired to drive them forwards. 

We stopped in this barakei, or wilderness, 
until the next morning, and then began to return, 
the soldiers being greatly exhausted and in want 
of water. On our return, I and Mr. Coffin, with 
about four hundred of the Ras's soldiers, lost 
tiie Ras in the woody desert, when in search of 
water, and during the night were encamped 
oy ourselves, almost starved, and crying out 
" No bread, no water. ^' Next day, we fell in 
with about six hundred of the Ras's soldiers, 
wboj upon seeing us, at first thought they had 


found the Ras^ who had been lost all night as 
well as ourselves ; we searched all day for hun, 
but to no purpose^ and the next day determmed to 
go to the camp^ where the baggage and our pro- 
visions were left. We reached on the following 
day. Upon seeing us come towards the camp, 
they of course thought the Ras could not be far 
off^ as they did not know where he was any more 
than we. After refreshing ourselves with a little 
maize and berenter^ we built a gqja*^ and slept 
comfortably until next morning. Our tent came 
up next day^ and while we were pitching it we 
heard that the Ras had fallen in with a great 
number of the rebels' cattle, which he had taken, 
and was encamped on a moimtain not far dff: 
upon which, we saddled our mules, and started 
immediately, leaving our horses and baggage to 
follow, and, in about three hours reached the 
Ras's camp upon the mountain, where we foimd 
that he had got a large gqja built, and meant to 
stay some time. He talked with me and Mr. 
Coffin some time, and asked us how we came 
to lose ourselves; when, after stating to him 
how it had happened^ he seemed satisfied and 
laughed heartily. 

We stopped three days upon this mountain, 

* The name of tents built with boughs. 


where we lived pretty well, there bdng plenty of 
com in a village at the top, belonging to the 
rebels, and having maize* brought from the main 
camp. We marched hence to Ardergahso, where 
we joined the main army, which had recdved 
orders to meet us there. Having burnt the town 
of the above name", we stopped two days, and 
then marched to the plain of Ardergahso; where 
the com was ready to cut, which it took us five 
days to destroy. We marched thence to the 
river Munnai, the finest country in that part of 
Abyssinia for corn and cattle, where we stopped 
a week to destroy every thing. Here is the 
famous church. Kudus Michael, the neighbourhood 
of which is remarkable for a kind of red cabbage, 
called hamley gannet, or the cabbage of paradise. 
Thence we proceeded to Deverer Martior, a 
country belonging to the Tigr^ Mureman Woldi 
Samuel. The road over the mountain this day 
^^as so bad, that we lost a great number of asses 
and mules ; and a few men and women, who were 
obliged to give way in the throng, fell over the 
precipices and were dashed to pieces. 

We next marched to Kerserou, on our return 
to Enderta, and then to Ardat, and encamped 

* Maize is a good beverage made of honey and ttudder. In the 
^aric it is called ttug. Berenter is a common loaf, baked upon 
^ coaI&» with a hot stone in the middle of it. 


about two miles from the spot where we had been 
formerly stationed on our advance from Erdereh, 
on account of the dead carcases of asses left behind. 
We stopped here till the 30th of October; the 
camp being very unhealthy, and I myself so very 
ill that the Ras thought it best to send me home 
to Chelicut. Mr. Coffin accompanied me, and we 
arrived there on the 8th of November. 

November 11th. The drum was beat, and 
orders were issued in the market-place of Antalo 
to cut all trees and bushes in every direction, 
on the road to the Amhara, for the Ras to pass 
to war with Guxo, upon hearing which Mr. CofiSn 
started the next day to join the Ras. . 

Guxo, we were informed, had forced the king 
Itsa Guarlu to call him Ras, and to deliver up his 
wife, whom he took to himself; he likewise sent 
a messenger to the Ras, but nobody knew with 
what intent, as the Ras kept the communication 
to himself. The drum was again beat on the 
following Wednesday, to prepare for war against 
the new Ras, Woldi Michael, or Guxo — ^Woldi 
Michael being his christian name — ^who had deter- 
mined to besiege Samen, and advance to Tigr^, 
the Tigr^ rebels forming his Fit-aurari, or van 

November 29th. The Ras arrived at Antalo, 
and gave orders to his people to be ready on the 


foUowiug Tuesday ; but news being brought the 
next day^ that the former report was untrue, and 
that Guxo had not yet started from Gondar, 
having merely sent his head general, Ackly 
Marro, to war against Ras Guebra, of Samen, 
the Ras thought it useless to march in person, 
but sent some trusty chiefs to join Ras Guebra, 
delaying his own expedition till Guxo should 
appear himself in the field. 

Ras Welled Selass^ had previously sent four 
messengers to Guxo, to inform him that it was 
seither he nor his father before him that could 
conquer Tigr^, and therefore recommended him 
not to give himself the trouble of crossing the 
Tacazz^, but to send him word, by the first 
messenger, on what plain he would like best to 
meet him, adding that, as Guxo had a great body 
of horse, a large plain would probably suit him 
best. The second messenger he directed to bring 
him word of his first day's march ; the third of 
his second ; and the fourth of his third. Orders 
were then given, in every part of the country, to 
clothe their servants, feed their horses and mules, 
and prepare for war against the return of the 

December 6th. Ito Woldi Raphael, the son 
of Ito Sevato, younger brother to Ras Welled 
Selassd, together with the chief' of the Bora, 


Safarling Guebra Abba, and Ito Woldi Samuel 
of Salora, marched to the frontiers of Guxo's 
dommions, and there encamped till the return of 
the Ras's messengers. 

The messengers returned with a conciliatory 
answer^ but, in the mean time, Waxum* Comfii 
of the Argare Lasta haying marched with his 
army, by the Ras's orders, to Guido, a country 
in Guxo's dominions, was attacked by an army of 
about five thousand of Guxo's horse, whom he 
defeated in the plain of Ardisart, compoionly 
called Ferasenaiyer Medah, or horseman's plain, 
after which he burnt all their towns and villages, 
and brought off what cattle he could find, amount- 
ing to five thousand bullocks, and a great number 
of horseff, mules, sheep, and goats : with these 
came a great number of prisoners, chiefly villagers, 
who did not carry arms, and who reported that 
a great number of men were killed by Waxum 
Comfu's musketry, there not being one musket 
with this detachment of Guxo's army. 

This news, brought to the Has on the 19th of 
December, at Antklo, gave him great joy. Guxo 
had formerly been on terms of great friendship 
with the Gusmarsh Gudlu, of Walkayt; after 
the death of the latter, Walkayt was governed by 

* Waxum is an ancient title of the Chiefs. 


his son^ the Gusmarsh Salada^ a man who is 
reckoned to be the strongest person in Abyssinia ; 
and it is reported, that when he was in an ill 
humour with his horse, he could, with one blow 
upon the head, kill the animal. I have been told 
that he has often done this when dissatisfied with 
his horse^s temper, but I never saw it, although 
I was a particular friend of his, when he was 
with the Ras Welled Selass^, in 1808. He was 
about six feet high, and the stoutest man I ever 
saw. This country was afterwards taken from 
him by his Blitingatore, Woldi Comfii, who took 
upon himself his master's title of Gusmarsh, and 
governed all Walkayt; while the Gusmarsh 
Salada was obliged to fly to the Ras and others 
for support. Ito Woldi Gabriel, who had a 
great district in Walkaji;, under Salada, also 
fled to Guxo, with whom he got so much in 
favour, that he gave him his daughter, and sent 
an army with him, from Gondar, to reduce 

The army was first put under command of 
Woldi Gabriel, two-thirds of which were Galla, 
as most of Guxo's horsemen are, he himself, 
indeed, being a Galla born. Before this army 
left Gondar, Guxo gave his son-in-law the 
title of Gusmarsh of all Walkayt, front the 
borders of the Shangalla to the Tacazz^. 

VOL. I. K 


In December, 1810, Woldi Gabriel advanced to 
the borders of Walkayt, where he was met by 
Woldi Comfu*8 troops, commanded by his bro- 
ther, on the plain of Assader ; when a very hard 
battle was fought, which ended in the death of 
the Gusmarsh Woldi Gabriel, Guxo's son-in-law, 
and with the loss of fifteen hundred Galla horse- 
men; the remainder returned to Gondar. This 
battle lessened Guxo's pride, Woldi Comfa 
having sent him word, that though he was only 
a friend and servant of the Ras, yet even he did 
not think it worth his while to meet the army 
sent by Guxo, because he did not head it himself. 
This intelligence greatly satisfied Ras Welled 

December 26th. News was spread i^ Antalo 
by the Shoa cqfia, that some strange white man 
was advancing from Shoa to Tigr^, and, as I had 
formerly received a letter from the Company's 
agent at Mocha, concerning Mr. Mungo Park, 
who entered Africa to the westward, I was led to 
believe that the traveller might prove to be 
that gentleman; for which reason, I asked the 
Ras for permission to go in search of him. This 
he at first granted, but, news being brought 
that Gojee and Liban had fought and that the 
latter was defeated, I was not allowed to go; 
as the Ras told me there was no other road 

gojee's barbarity. 75 

through their Gountry, excepting that which joined 
to Wosen Segued's of Efat, and Gojee being at 
variance with Tigr^ no cofla^ or individual, would 
be able to travel without being murdered by 
him, if it proved true that he had conquered 

In February, 1809, Gojee had taken the usual 
barbarous trophies from all the Tigr^ coflm^ and 
had plundered them of their property, slaves, &c. 
to revenge himself for the blood shed by Tigr^ 
in I8O7 ; and, to provoke Ras Welled Selass^, 
he had chosen out twelve of the Ant&lo people, on 
account of that place being the Ras's residence, 
and took the eyes out of eleven of them ; from the 
twelfth he took out only one eye, and then, tying 
them in a string together, left the man with one 
eye to conduct the others to their camp, where 
nearly all died. This is a trifling instance of 
Gojee's barbarity, of which I have heard exam- 
ples too horrid to relate. 

January 14th, 181 L The Ras's messenger re- 
turned from the Gusmarsh Liban, who said the 
news that Gojee's messenger reported was not 
true, as Liban had never had any engagement at 
^ with Gojee; though, after plundering his^ 
country and returning to his own, Gojee had 
followed him, and cut off some horse, and taken 
Liban's tent, which was a long way in the 


rear of the army, that chief never suspecting 
he would dare to follow him. On the arrival 
of this news, I had some hopes of fulfilling my 
intention of going to Shoa. 

January 20th. Guebra Guro came in, as he 
had done formerly, to the Ras, with one of his 
rebel brothers, with stones upon their necks; 
when they were forgiven as before. But the Ras 
refused to receive Subegadis, who wished also to 
have made it up ; but, having the blood of so 
many chiefs upon him, ^^ How is it possible,'* 
said the Ras, ^^ for him to remain about me in 
safety, even if I were to forgive him V 

February Ist. The Ras came to Chelicut, 
with an intention of meeting Ras Ilo's brother, 
Palambarus Woldi Toclu, but he did not arrive 
until the 4th. The same day, a very unpleasant 
circumstance occurred to me and Mr. CofiBin. The 
old Copti Gorgis*, who, it seems, was dig- 
satisfied with the treatment he had received &om 
the Company's agent at Mocha, forged a letter in 
Arabic, in the name of the governor of Aytb, 
near Amphila, on the coast ; addressed to all the 
chief-priests, and advising them to be upon their 
guard, as the Feringees, or English, were ex- 

* Gorgis, an old Copti, the only one remaining of the train of 
the Egyptian Abnna. 



pected to land at Amphila, with an intention to 
march to the Ras WeUed Selass^'s territories^ and 
make war upon the Christians in Abyssinia; 
and, if they did not put to death Pearce and 
Coffin, who had got acquainted with the roads 
throughout the country, it might be of very 
serious consequence to them. This letter was 
sealed with a false stamp, in the name of the 
governor of Ayth. All this being told us by 
Gorgis' servant, who had been with him to 
Mocha, I went immediately to the Ras and told 
him what I had heard, to which he replied, ^^ I 
am not surprised at Gorgis, as he once was found 
in league with some others, in the time of Gus- 
marsh Woldi Gabriel, Ras Michaers son, and 
was caught filling a hole with powder under the 
sofa I slept upon, for which he was to have been 
paid by the Gusmarsh Woldi Gabriel, had it suc- 
ceeded ; but it was not God's will it should be 
so. I chained Gorgis," he went on to say, 
^^ with an intention to punish him, but, at last, 
I sent him about his business, as I did not like 
to take away his life on my own account, but left 
him to the judgment of God." He added, " Do 
not be alarmed at such news as this, for no one 
shall hurt you while I am living." 

February 8th. Palambarus Woldi Toclu begged 
the Ras to let him see me fire at a cloth spread 


upon the mountain above Chelicut^ about three 
quarters of a mile distant) with the cannon before 
mentioned; and it greatly astonished him when 
he saw the shot hit so true. 

February 9th. This chief returned to his own 
country^ and the Ras^ on his taking leave^ made 
him a present of two handsome matchlocks^ and 
a velvet deno, a dress made up in the fashicm 
of the sheepskin usually worn. It was my inten- 
tion to have gone along with him as £ar as Salla- 
bella^ his country^ and to try and penetrate thence 
to Shoa ; but difficulties were thrown in the way 
by the Ras, and I was myself so ill with a sore 
throat at the time^ that it could not well have 
been attempted. 

February 17th. I heard from a friend, who had 
just come from^ Wadkayt, that a white man had 
arrived there from Tombuctoo by the way of 
Ras-el-feel, and I now was happy to think that I 
had not gone with the Palambarus, as I had 
intended, for the purpose of giving all the assist- 
ance in my power to this traveller ; I immediately, 
however, sent off a trusty servant, with a letter 
directed to Mr. Mungo Park, British traveller in 
Africa; begging him, in case of his arrival in Wal- 
kayt, to let me know by the bearer, and I would 
immediately join him there, and do him all the 
service in my power. 



Tht next day^ I heard firom a very respect- 
able merchant^ of the Walkayt cqfla^ that, when 
he left that district, a white man was ex- 
pected there, who had been a prisoner three 
years among the ShangaUa, and had been made 
to cany wood, water, &c., like a slave; but 
who, by good fortune, had at length made his 
escape. I took this merchant with me to the Ras, 
acquainting him with what had been told me, and 
mentioned that I suspected it was my countryman, 
in great distress. The good old gentleman im- 
mediately sent a messenger to the Gusmati Woldi 
Comfu, desiring him, if any white man should 
arrive in his country, to clothe him, and feed him 
well for some time, and then give him mules, 
servants, &c., -and forward him to Antido. 

March 4th. My servant came back without the 
least intelligence of the traveller, which made me 
think that, tiiough it might be true that he had 
been seen as near Walkajrt as Ras-el-feel, he had 
gone on to Suakin on the coast. 

March 8th. A messenger from Guxo came to 
the Ras, with offers of conciliation. He was an- 
swered by the Ras, that if he would put all the 
priests, who had formerly been left at the head of 
different Amhara churches by the Abuna, in their 
proper stations, and let them follow the religion 
they professed, and not make war with his 


friends, Ras Ilo and Liban, he would always con- 
tinue on amicable terms with him. 

March 18th. Liban's messenger arrived at Gibba, 
where the Ras was keeping his fast, with intelli- 
gence that Liban was within one day's march of 
Deverertavor, Guxo's capital, that his Fit-aurari 
had fought with Guxo's Fit-aurari, though with- 
out gaining any decided advantage, and inviting 
the Ras, if he were his friend, to come by Lasta 
to his assistance. The Ras did not, however, 
think proper to march himself, after the messen- 
ger he had sent to Guxo, but detached Waxum 
Comfii and Bashaw Wolockedan, with a strong 
army to assist Liban, telling him, if he were de- 
feated, he would then march himself ; and orders 
were given accordingly, throughout the country, 
to be in readiness. 

March 25th. Intelligence was brought that 
Liban's Fit-aurari had beaten Guxo, and driven 
him back to his camp, and that Liban had burnt 
and destroyed all Daunt, Wadler, and Begemder. 
The old Ras was far from pleased on hearing of 
his friend's burning Christian churches ; Guxo, 
it was said, had not offered to march against 
Liban, but had let him advance as near as possi- 
ble, that he might not easily make his escape. 
The Ras now greatly wished to proceed, but his 
chiefs persuaded him to the contrary. 


On the 29th, the messenger, who was sent by 
the Ras to Walkayt, arrived without hearing any 
tidings of the white man, which confirmed me 
still more in my own opinion, that he had gone 
down to Suakin or some other place upon the 
coast. The white man seen in Shoa, I afterwards 
heard, was a Turkish merchant, who had gone up 
thither with goods from Zela. 

March 30th. Guebra Guro came to my house 
to discourse with me and Mr. Coffin concerning 
the usage he had received from the Ras, and told 
us, that, if the Ras should go to war with the 
Amhara, his brother Subegadis would take pos- 
session of all Tigr^ during his absence. Two days 
after, I and Mr. Coffin went to the Ras, thinking it 
best to acquaint him with Guebra Guro's visit 
and inteUigence, for fear of his hearing of the 
circumstance from some other quarter. When I 
told him what had passed, he flew into a passion, 
saying, ^* What business had you in his company?" 
and added, "go you with them.'* I told him the 
country I belooged to was governed by a king, 
and that I would return to it rather than join his 
rebels, as he told me ; saying which, I went away, 
and immediately afterwards sent to his house the 
horse he had given me, and prepared for our de- 
parture. Our friend Baharnegash Yasous hap- 
pening to be with the Ras at the time, and hearing 
E 5 


what he said, told him that he was in the wrong. 
Chellica Comfii also told the Ras that I had 
been like a slave to him for nearly six years, and 
said, ** How can you be angry with him for having 
conunitted no fault?" Others also spoke in my 
behalf. The next morning he sent for me, but I 
refused to go, until the Baharnegash of Chellica 
Comfii came and persuaded me; when I came 
before him, he asked me " What was the reason 
of my returning my horse?" I told him that ** I 
had been better than five years as a slave to him, 
and during three wars, and long encampments in 
his service, had sometimes been almost as naked 
as I was bom, and when no plunder was to be 
gained had often nearly died with hunger ; and 
that in return for my service^ he had told me to 
go and join his rebellious subjects, which I would 
never do, though, if he would grant me leave, I 
would return to my native country." In answer 
he said, ^* I only told you so from being out of 
temper with something else, and I am in the wrong, 
you have always behaved as you say;" and then 
he gave me and Mr. CoflBp a bruit/ of brandy, 
and the matter was made up. On the same day, 
he gave me the large piece of cultivated land, called 
Wogarte, with all arristies, or ploughmen, with 
their ploughs and oxen, fifteen in number. The 
produce of this land was merely for my cattle and 

— — 1 


servants, and my standing allowance went on as 

April 4th. News was brought, that Liban had 
burnt a church belonging toGuxo, called Tuckerlie 
Yasous, which enraged Guxo so much, that he 
marched himself to the field and drove Liban before 
him, burning all the towns and villages in Daunt, 
Wadler, and Damot. This news much displeased 
the Ras, who determined to march at the latter 
end of the month. 

April 9th. A present arrived for the Ras, from 
Wosen Segued, king of Shoa, of seven very beau- 
tiful horses, for his own riding, and three mules, 
one of which he had received from the Gusmarsh 
Guxo, and which he sent expressly to the Ras, to 
shew him that he had more regard for him than 
for Guxo ; tiiere were also six young boys and six 
young girls, slaves, who accompanied the present, 
which was graciously received. 

On the follovring day, he gave me the choice of 
one of the six girls for myself, and the rest he 
presented to his women. With these presents 
came a pair of red leather shoes, for the Ras, 
from the king of Shoa, which is considered as a 
token of great affection. 

Although the Ras had determined to march 
upon the 29th of this month, yet, attempting to 
start, the priests came from all parts of the coun- 


try, and assembled before him at Antklo, assuring 
him that it was not a season for war, and that 
he must not go until the rwns were over in Sep- 
tember, which grieved him very much, as Guxo 
had totally defeated Liban, and taken Barbar his 
capital. Liban fled across the river Bashilo, 
which often begins about the latter end of May 
to overflow, on account of the early rains, in 
Wochale, where he remained safe from Guxo, 
expecting that the Ras would march to his as- 

April 30th. A very hard battle was fought 
by Baharnegash Subhart and Kantiva Sasinas, 
against Shum Woldi, of Zervan Bure, and the 
sons of Kantiva Amon, of Arli and Fellou. 
Shum Woldi was killed by a soldier belonging 
to Sasinas ; although Shxaa Woldi was a very old 
man, he killed three with his spear before he fell, 
one of whom was brother to Sasinas. After he 
had fallen, and Sasinas was told the news, he 
rode up to the old man and cut his throat, which 
greatly disgraced him, as every one was of opi- 
nion that it proved him a coward. Fifteen chiefs 
were killed upon Shum Woldi's side, with seventy 
men ; and on Baharnegash Subhart's side, three 
chiefs and twenty-four soldiers. The Ras was 
much grieved at this affair, but, as he had given 
them leave to fight it out, he could say nothing 


to either party. This disturbance made the road 
down to Massowa very unsafe for some time; 
the relations of Shum Woldi^ together with his 
son^ having raised about seventy thousand men 
more than before, only waited for the Ras's per- 
mission to be fevenged upon the others for the 
barbarity of Sasinas. Nebrid, who left Tigr^ as 
a rebel, died in Wadler, on his return with 
Guxo's army from the country of Liban to 
Gondar, and was buried in the church of Abba- 
garva, April 1811. There was great crying for 
him throughout all Tigr^ ; the Ras himself joined 
in the ceremony for two days, and gave one hun- 
dred pieces of cloth, equal to one hundred dollars, 
to the priests of the Trinity Church, at Chelicut, 
and one hundred to the priests of Axum; offering 
up some prayers for the deceased, which they 
call fettart. These priests always get well paid 
when any great man dies, and from the poor they 
get part of what property they may leave behind ; 
on which account I really believe that they often 
pray for people to die. 

May 4th. I and Mr. Coffin went to the Ras, to 
inform him that we were continually threatened 
by some of his head-priests, and that we hoped 
he would allow us to go back to our own country. 
This was liot done through fear of what they 
could do to us, but to see if it were possible to 


get some of them turned out of their places^ but 
it was to no purpose. He said, "You cannot go 
at present, but no one shall hurt you while I am 
alive. The two guns your king sent make all 
my enemies fear me, both upon the plains and 
upon the Ainbas ; and, if I were to let you go, 
who would know how to use them V* 

May 6th. The country of Agame, belonging 
to Subegadis, was given to his brother Sardie, 
whom he had so long confined, . but who fortu- 
nately made his escape ' by bribing the man to 
whom he was chained. 

May 12th. Subegadis came into the camp 
of Salafe Tusfu Mariam by night. He was one 
of the Ras's chiefs, sent through the different 
settlements as far as Degan to gather in the 
Ras's yearly income, and, upon his return through 
the country of Agam^, under the mountaui of 
Ambaarra, belonging to Subegadis, he sent away 
a great many t)f his men, with the Ras's money; 
upon which Subegadis, seeing that he had but 
a small force left, came upon him in the night, 
and made a great slaughter, Tusfu Mariam him- 
self being also killed, which grieved the Ras very 
much, although he blamed him for his miscon- 

May 29th. Guxo arrived in Deverertavor, after 
driving Liban one day's march beyond the Ba- 


shilo, and gave his country to his own chiefs, 
Anderwar Siddisto and Buro Gala, who command 
a very large body of cavafary, and are chiefs of 
considerable importance. Gnxo is supposed at 
this time to have more power than ever Itsa 
Tecla Gorgis possessed, and, on this occasion, he 
took with him to the field twenty-eight thousand 
horse^ besides his foot, and a few matchlocks ; 
yet, though his army was so numerous, he was 
always in dread of Ras Welled Selass^'s mus- 
ketry, and at this time, sent his chief priest Alli- 
car Redan, and his Balermal, Ito Coularlit, to 
the Ras, to intreat him to be friends with him, 
and make it up. The Ras refused his request, 
and said^ that if he did not release the Gusmarsh 
Christy Zonde, and the Cannasmash Wardic, of 
Gojam and Damot, and give them back their 
country, he would', when the rains in September 
were over, let him know who Ras Welled Selass^ 

In the middle of June, Liban found an oppor- 
tunity of crossing the Bashilo without much loss, 
and, returning to his own country, fought with 
Guxo*8 two generals, and, after great slaughter, 
took Anderwar Siddisto prisoner, and drove Buro 
Gala to a high and strong mountain, called Cugso 
Amba. Guxo could not venture to march to 
their assistance, as Hilier Mariam, Ras Guebra's 


son, had burned and destroyed all Wogara, and 
advanced to within a short day's march of Gon- 
dar. Ras Welled Selass^'s subjects, not being 
willing to go to war with the Amhara, as the 
locust appeared in all parts of Tigre in the month 
of July, the campaign was deferred, and Liban 
and all Guxo's enemies seeing this, were glad to 
make terms with Guxo, and to be friends, though 
more from fear than any motives of good-will. 

. In the latter end of July, Guxo sent two of his 
chief secretaries to the Ras, declaring that he 
would agree to any thing he proposed, except the 
release of Christy Zonde and the Cannasmash 
Wardic, who, were they once set free, would 
soon overthrow his country. With this the Ras 
appeared satisfied, and sent ivith the messengers 
Dofter Aster, one of the most learned men in the 
' country, to agree about the expence of bringing 
the Abuna into the country ; but Guxo said, that 
he would not agree to any thing of that kind 
until he should know the truth of the Ras's heart, 
because, if the Abuna were to come from Egypt, 
it would be the occasion of Ras Welled Selass^'s 
accompanying him to Gondar. 

August 18th. Guebra Guro was chained by 
the Ras's orders and sent to Alajjay, a very strong 
mountain in Wojjerat, where all chiefs who had 
offended were confined, in general for life before 


• the Ras's time; but he, being the most merciful 
I governor ever known in Abyssinia, never keeps 
f even the greatest of his enemies long in confine- 
ment, and never puts them to death except for 
murder ; while his predecessors have been known 
to bum alive or cut oflf the limbs of those who 
have fallen under their displeasure for the 
slightest ojSences. Gojee is the most cruel chief 
that ever was known, not even excepting Has 
Michael, who, though very severe to chiefs under 
him, if they disobeyed, yet was always kind to 
the poor, and very liberal in giving away his 
money, while Ras Welled Selass^, though a man 
of the tenderest feelings, is the greatest miser I 
believe that ever existed. The poor get nothing 
from him but the yearly offerings, which all 
Christians, that is to say. Christian chiefs, are 
bound to bestow by the laws of their religion ; 
nevertheless he is a great favourite with the poor, 
as he does them justice when wronged by the 
rich or powerful. 

September 13th. The Gusmati Ischias and 
two of Nebrid Aram's sons, who had been 
among the Tigr6 rebels, came from the Amhara, 
with stones about their necks, to ask forgiveness, 
at MuccuUa, where the Ras was keeping the 
yearly holyday. The Ras, upon seeing the Gus- 
mati, rose from his sofa, and kissed him, saying. 


^' Although it is far from the first time you have 
rebelled against me^ yet I forgive you from my^ 
heart," and immediately gave orders that the 
Gusmati Ischias's districts should be returned 
to him, while to the sons of Nebrid Aram, Ito 
Woldi Michael^ and Ito Melker, he gave half 
what they had formerly possessed. 

The small-pox at this time committed such 
ravages throughout the country, that aU thoughts 
of war were abandoned. As the malady increased, 
it became more like a plague than the small-pox, 
and in a great many towns and villages the people 
lost all their children, and numbers of gprown- 
up persons, who had not had the disease before, 
died also. The only mode by which they sup- 
pose the complaint can be alleviated is to keep 
themselves from the air as much as possible, and 
let nobody see them who has been out of doors, 
or in the sunshine ; they also tie up all cocks, 
he-cats, and other male animals, that chance to 
be about their houses, from the strange notion, 
that were they to associate at that time with their 
females, it would endanger the lives, or at any 
rate increase the sufferings, of those afflicted with 
the complaint^. For a similar reason, during all 
kinds of sickness, indeed, they will not allow a 

* The AbysBinians in general lay their patients afflicted with 
small-pox on wood-ashes, or river-sand. 



Mend to enter the house where the patient lies ; 
and they never wash themselves or 
when ill^ being ihe dirtiest people in the world 
at these fimes^ though, when in health, they are 
remarkably cleanly in their persons. I used con- 
tinually to find fault with them for these super- 
stitious and unhealthy practices, but to no 
purpose ; though, for the sake of example, when 
my own people, eleven in niunber, were afflicted 
with the small-pox, I put them all together into a 
separate and clean house, and every morning and 
evening turned them out into the air, and made 
them wash themselves, though much against their 
inclinations. This practice brought upon me 
continual quarrels with my neighbours, though 
nobody dared interfere, as I told them what I did 
was for their own benefit, and to prevent their 
dying like dogs ; and fortunately it was the will 
of God that they all got well in a short time. 

At Axum, the mortality among the people was 
so great, as to occasion the loss of the cattle 
also, there not being a man or boy left in some 
families to open their pens and turn them out to 
grass. Thirty cows were found dead in one fold. 
At Adowa, the ravages of the disease were not so 
severe, as a great number of its inhabitants had 
previously had the disorder the last time it ap- 
peared amongst them ; but all the other places in 


Amhara, Tigr^^ Enderta, aiid the adjoining dis 
tricts, Samen^ Lasta^ Begeinder, Gondar, and 
Gojam^ shared the same fate. The locust de- 
voured the corn to the east of the Tacazz^*, and 
the small-pox carried off the people in all quar- 
ters^ so that a great part of the country was left 
in a state of complete desolation. 

* The locust is never known to get beyond the mountaias 
of Samen. 


Destruction of the town of Bolento by the Gallar— Government 
and manners of the Galla^Mr. Coffin's departure for Mocha 
—Present from the King of Shoa to the Ras— The Small- 
pox->Death of Ito Yasous, the King's brother, and his sister. 
Ozoro Mantwaub, wife of the Ras — ^Affliction of the Ras — Fu- 
neral of the Ozoro— Movements of Guxo— The Ras takes to 
wife a daughter of the King Itsa Tecla Gorgis— Battle between 
two chiefs at AntMo — Submission of Subegadis to the Ras — 
Plans of Ras Guebra and Guxo— Locusts — Famine— Itsa Bede 
Mariam, formerly king, visits Antilo— Insecurity of property 
— Reigning kings of Abyssinia — ^The Ras assembles his army 
—Defeat of Hilier Mariam by the Tigr6 army— Presents to 
messengers of good tidings — ^Insurrection of Subegadi»— Re- 
lease of Guebra Gurb. 

Sbptembbr 17th. The Ras reviewed his troops 
at Antklo. November 12th, he arrived at Cheli- 
cut from Mycculla, and the next day marched 
for Bolento, the frontier of the Galla, where we 
arrived in three days, and to our surprise found 
it totaUy in ruins, although, when I saw it, four 
years ago, it was the strongest place of defence 
in all Abyssinia. Welled Shabo, king of the 
Assubo pagan Galla, had come with his army in 
the night, and succeeded in getting into the town, 
by a small breach in the wall, which had fallen 
down during the heavy rains. In storming the 
fhte, the Galla killed three hundred and seventy* 


five people, and drove, it is said, upwards of two 
thousand men, women, and children, over its 
walls, where many were dashed to pieces. There 
is not a place, I believe, round all the mountain 
of Bolento, less than thirty yards steep, except 
where the Galla found means to enter, the rest of 
the wall being in good repair, the front gateway 
having double walls, and within it flat-topped 
houses, upon which the people got to defend the 
gate, when attacked by an enemy. On the tops 
of the houses was a wall parapet about three feet 
thick, with holes made in it for firing matchlocks 
through, which no Galla will ever face. The 
Ras stopped until he had repaired the wall^ and 
was visited continually by the different Galla 
chiefs in the neighbourhood, who brought him, 
as presents, sangcis and other cattle, and he in 
return gave them clothes and silver ornaments 
for their arms and heads* 

From the mountain of Bolento you can see the 
Galla walking in the capital of Assubo. You 
can also see Carra, another large town, at a great 
distance. Assubo, Carra, and Hiyer, are the three 
largest towns of the Assubo Galla. I was in 
Hiyer, on our return from Edjow, in 1807> when 
we stopped three days ; our camp was at some 
distance, but the Ras received an invitation from 
Welled Shabo to see the town, and I went with 


liim. Like most of the towus in Abyssinia, it 
has no walls, but stands in the plain, whereas 
ihe Abyssinians in general build upon heights. 

WeUed Shabo is still alive, and often comes to 
see the Ras, though he is no longer king. The 
Assubo Galla elect their king for seven years 
(Hily, which office is confined to the offspring 
of an ancient family. Kecty was the father of 
Shabo, and, after Kecty had been king seven 
years, his brother Bolento was made king, from 
whom the moimtain of Bolento took its name, 
as he first fortified the place ; but it was after- 
wards taken from him by the Christians. After 
Bolento came Shabo; Welled Shabo Combally, 
brother to Shabo, was the next king, but, dying 
a short time before his time was out, his 
son, Welled Combally, the present king, was 

I saw Shabo and his son, with several other 
principal Galla, sitting down to feast upon a 
be fat sanga. As soon as the animal was killed, 
the blood was caught hot in horns, the first being 
given to Shabo, the second to his son, and so 
OQ in rotation as long as it lasted, and they 
wemed to relish it as much as my own country- 
men would a draught of porter or wine. Although 
^ey in general drink the blood, they always 
broil the meat a little, and upbraid the Christians 


for eating it raw, like dogs. They have no 
regular wives^ except siich as belong to the 
family of their kings, who always take a relative 
to wife. They may have as many concubines 
as they please, but the children by the latter 
cannot be elected kings, or succeed to any of 
their father's property. All others do as they 
think proper, and relationship forms no objection 
where they take a liking. 

December 25th. The Ras returned to Bet- 
mariah, in Wojjerat, where we kept our Christ- 
mas-day, and on the 27th proceeded to Gurref 

January 1st, 1812. We went to Antalo, where 
the Ras reviewed his Enderta, Wojjerat, Temben, 
and Giralta troops. 

On the 14th, Mr. Cofl&n took leave of the Ras 
at Antalo, and on the 16th left Chelicut for 
Mocha. The Ras would not let him go, before 
he had made me swear to be bound for his 
returning in the space of three months. He 
gave Mr. Cofl&n, for himself, fifty pieces of com- 
mon cloth, two fine cloths for his own dress, 
and a fine gersillah* skin dress, the latter worth 
two wakeahs of gold. He also gave him thirty 
wakeahs of gold, to deliver to Captain Rud- 

* The gersiUah is a fine black animal of the leopard kind. 


land; and I likewise sent by him^ as a present 
to Captain Rudland^ a tame lion^ wliich I had 
taught to follow me like a dog, and two civet-cats. 

January 24th. Messengers from Wosen Sq^ued, 
king of Shoa, arrived with a present of ten horses, 
two mules, and twelve slaves, to the Ras, which 
present was kindly accepted, as at other times, 
with an inclination of the head. The small- 
pox still raged like a plague throughout the 

February 18th. Ito Yasous died of this malady, 
and his sister Ozoro Mantwaub on the 16th; they 
were brother and sister to the present king, Itsa 
Guarlu, now in Gondar, who is lineally descended 
from the late king, Itsa Ischias, who was de- 
throned by (juxo. Ito Yasous was an intimate 
acquaintance of Mr. Salt's. The Ozoro's death 
grieved every one who knew her, as she was 
one of the most charitable persons in Abyssinia, 
and was the favourite wife of the Ras, who sat 
close by her when she died. As she breathed 
her last, he drew his shuttle, or knife, to stab 
himself, but I caught hold of his arm and took 
it away, and with the help of some slaves pre- 
vented him from committing so dreadful an act. 
He lay afterwards for some time senseless on the 
ground, but, at last, when water was thrown 
upon him, he came to himself, though, for some 

VOL.. I. p 


days, he appeared quite inconsolable^ and ate 
nothing, saying continually '^ Is God angry with 
mef" A great many of his relations died at 
the same time, and throughout the country 
nothing was heard but lamentations for their loss. 
Ozoro Mantwaub and Ito Yasous were buried at 
Chelicut, and a house was built oyer their grave. 
The grave was. first dug, and then a large coffin 
or trough, made out of the trunk of a large 
darro-tree, formerly serving as doors to the 
Ras's house, was placed in it*. I myself carried 
Ozoro Mantwaub in my arms from the church to 
the grave; she was sewed up in a fine white 
Indian cloth, and over that was tied the skin upon 
which she died : they call it a neet, and it is 
formed either of a cow's or goat's hide. The 
whole of the people, from the king to the town- 
cast, sleep with their bodies bare upon it, though 
they have a carpet beneath. Nobody, except her 
priest, myself, her women-servants, and the 
eunuchs who used to attend upon her, and of 
whdm she had a great number, was allowed to 
»ee her; but the Ras, from the confidence he 
reposed in me, always allowed me to eat with 
him and the Ozoro, telling her, at the same time, 

* It is a common practice to take doors to make a coffin for 
great persons at their death, if they have wooden ones, for, in 
general, they are of cane. 


I was welcome to visit her at her own meals, and, 
if I did not come, she might, if she thought 
proper, send for me. This was certainly a great 
mark of distinction, as his dearest friend or rela- 
tion was not allowed such a liberty*. 

Guxo, being alarmed at the prevalence of the 
small-pox, fled to Gojam, but, finding it raged in 
that country, he went to Mettreah, an island on 
the Lake Tzana, where he resided until the dis- 
order began to abate. There are several islands 
on this lake upon which he has houses, namely 
one at Mettreah, where his brother is buried, and 
another on Rama, where his mother is interred ; 
but his favourite house 'stands upon the small 
island Carretta WoUetta. The disorder, how- 
ever, having by this time spread from Dembea 
to that island, induced him to retire to Mettreah. 
As soon as the complaint had subsided, and he 
could venture to Gondar, Deverertavor, and 
Leuo, he sent his head general, Ackly Marro, to 
make war upon Ras Guebra; but Ackly Marro, 
finding that Welled Selass^ was previously warned 

* It is singular that Mr. Salt was not allowed this favour, as 
he expressly states that, owing to the extreme jealousy of the 
-Ras in these matters, he never, except once, and then by a 
stratagem of the lady's, obtained a sight even of her person. 
Perhaps the Ras might consider the rank of Mr. Salt as too 
nearly approaching his own to admit of that degree of familiarity 
in which he thought an inferior might be safely indulged. — Editor, 

F 2 


of Guxo's intention, and had dispatched five hun- 
dred musket-men to Ras Guebra's assistance^ 
with Shum Temben Aversaw, the eldest son of 
Ito Manassey, sent word back to his master 
Guxo, that the muskets of Tigr^ were so 
numerous that it would be folly to attack Samen, 
were he even to march in person ; the country 
being so mountainous and so disadvantageous for 

At this time, Cannasmash Hilier Mariam, Ras 
Guebra's son, bad taken Walkayt, and driven 
Woldi Comfu to Waldubba, which made Guxo 
wish to come to terms with Ras Guebra. Ac- 
cordingly, it was agreed that the king Itsa 
Tecla Gorgis should settle the dispute that 
had arisen between them. After peace was esta- 
blished, Guxo offered his daughter in marriage 
to Ras Guebra's son, Hilier Mariam, with the 
view of detaching him from the interest of Ras 
Welled Selass^ ; who, when he learned the in- 
telligence, ordered his troops to return from Ras 
Guebra's dominions. 

At this time, the Ras, not appearing inclined 
for war, spent his time chiefly in going from 
Antklo to Chelicut, MuccuUa, &c., for his amuse- 
ment. He seemed to have quite forgotten his 
favourite Ozoro Mantwaub, as, about this period, 
he agreed, though upwards of seventy, to take to 


wife Itsa Tecla Gorgis' daughter^ Ozoro Sean; 
who accordingly on July 11th arrived with a 
great company^ at midnight, at Fellegdarro, 
where the Ras had been employed^ during the 
month of June^ in building a house for her re- 
ception. She was about thirteen years of age, 
of a very black complexion, like her father, but 
had very pretty features. The marriage was con- 
sunmiated the same night } the lady remained at 
Fellegdarro until the 3d of August, when he sent 
for her to Chelicut, but did not, for some time, 
establish her in the house occupied by his late 

August 8th. The Gusmarsh Tuimmerhu, of 
Amhara, arrived at Chelicut; he was gover«' 
nor of a great district on the banks of the 
Bashilo ; but, his subjects rebelling against him, 
he fled to the Ras for succour, as neither Liban 
nor Gojee was on friendly terms with him, 
though his country nearly joined theirs. When 
he arrived at Antalo, he presented to the Ras 
the horse he rode upon, which was well re- 

August 29th. The Ras left Chelicut for Muc- 
culla, where he kept his new year's day, (Kudus 
Yohannis) and he returned to Chelicut on the 
14th of September; on the 16th he went to 
Antklo to review his troops, according to the 


yearly custom^ and to place and replace his chiefs 
as he thought proper. 

September 17th. Palambanis Guebra Amlac^ 
who rebelled with Nebrid Aram, came firom 
Guxo's army with a stone upon his neck, was 
foi^ven, and had part of his district returned to 

September 24th. Safarling Guebra Abba 
quarrelled with Ito Ilo, in the market-place 
of Antalo, and brought on a battle in which 
Guebra Abba had thirty-four men, and his mule 
under him, killed outright, and his two sons and 
several men wounded. Ilo, being a son of 
Balgadder Woldi Hannes, a near relation to the 
Ras, was assisted by all Enderta, who together 
overpowered Guebra Abba, although the latter 
never quitted his- ground. Ilo had five men 
killed and was himself wounded. The Ras was 
very much concerned at this rencounter, and 
several times sent orders to the combatants to 
desist and he would render justice to both sides^ 
but to no purpose, until night parted them. 

Guebra Abba was one of the hardest^^fighting 
chiefs the Ras ever had, and always kept the 
Hazorta Galla from intruding on the districts 
which he commanded, and which adjoined theirs* 
Indeed, he would have beaten all Enderta, had 
the dispute not happened in the town, where the 


latter could get shelter behind walls and houses^ 
The Ras was very sorry that Guebra was over- 
powered^ for he had ever been a faithful servant 
to him, and he took from all those who came to 
He's assistance half their districts, which he 
gave to Guebra Abba as a recompeoce. I 
told the Ras that this practice would not' do in 
our country, for such quarrels would be deemed 
rebellion, and every one concerned in such an 
outrage woidd be put to death by the king's 
troops. Ito Middin, a great favourite with the 
Ras, was the chief assistant to Ho; and was 
proved to have shot five men himself belonging 
to Guebra Abba, for which Guebra Abba de- 
manded justice, according to their book of laws, 
which is kept in all their head churches ; upon 
which Middin took sanctuary in the Ras's church 
at Chelicut. 

October 13th. Ito Subegadis, the greatest 
rebel in Abyssinia, came to the Ras, with a stone 
upon his neck, and, although the Ras had for- 
merly refused to receive him, yet, on seeing him 
personally, he forgave him. His brother Guebra 
Guro was still closely imprisoned in chains, and 
Subegadis thought, that, by submitting to the 
Ras, he should very likely obtain the release of 
his brother from confinement, but the Ras kept 
him close up on Alajjay* About this time, two of 


Guebra Guro^s servants were caught buying' 
charms^ to loosen the irons from their master's 
hands and legs^ from an old M ahomedan fakir*, 
and were ordered by the Ras to be barbarously 
flogged three times round the market-place of 
Antklo; but the Mahomedan he only called ^ 
superstitious old fool^ and sent him about his 

November 1st. Three Balermals, people of 
great distinction, arrived from Ras Guebra^ to 
inform the Ras that Guxo was upon his march 
to Inchetkaub^ his capital^ and was encamped at 
Mariam Wor ; telling the Ras, at the same time, 
that their master had no other friend upon whom 
he coidd rely for assistance against his enemies ; 
and praying that he would march, as soon as 
possible, by way of Lasta and Begemder, and 
throw himself in the rear of Guxo's army. The 
Ras, on hearing this proposal, suspected Ras 
Guebra of treachery, and insisted therefore, in 
his reply, on going through Samen j which made 
Ras Guebra send again, spying that Guxo and he 
had settled all their disputes. A few days after 
Guxo's head secretary came, in the name of his 
master ; and, bowing at the Ras's feet, said that 

♦ Many, both Mahomedans and Christians, get their Kving 
by writing charms. 


he had never given the least offence to Ras 
Guefora, or any other ally of hib 3 nor had he 
marched from Gondar to Mariam Wor, as Ras 
Guebra had reported, and that one day or other 
he would know all. 

In fact, he soon did become acquainted with 
the real state of things ; for, a short time after- 
wards, a favourite priest of Guxo's came over, 
and disclosed to the Ras the whole affair ; when 
it appeared that, notwithstanding the kind treat- 
ment Ras Guebra had always received from Ras 
Welled Selass^, who had three times forgiven 
his rebellions practices, he still persisted in his 
treacherous conduct. On this occasion, it seems, 
he and Guxo had agreed that Ras Welled Selass^ 
should be persuaded to march, round by Lasta 
and Begemder, against Guxo; and that, after 
passing through Lasta, Ras Guebra, and his son 
Cannasmash Hilier Mariam, who had got com- 
plete possession of Walkayt, should both go 
down to Tigr^, and endeavour to seduce the 
remainder of the army left to guard that country; 
a scheme in which Ras Guebra hoped to succeed, 
from having, for some time previously, made 
alliance through marriages with many chiefs of 
Tigr6, even with the consent of the Ras, who had 
never suspected his treachery. After these 
several plots had been accomplished, the united 
F 6 


forces were to march in the rear of the Ras*s 
army, while Guxo was to retreat to the plains of 
Gojam, where they hoped, if the Ras followed, 
to be able to snrround him. It was npon this 
agreement being sworn to by Guxo and Ras 
Guebra, that the former had sent his daughter 
to the Cannasmash Hilier Mariam, who was also 
bound by oath to be true to the league. With 
his daughter Guxo sent fifty horses and fifty 
mules, one thousand homed cattle, cows and 
bulls, fifty matchlocks, twenty-five Persian car- 
pets, fifty slaves, fifty free female servants, with 
silver merdah (necklaces,) fifty swords, and five 
hundred wakeahs of gold, as the dowry of his 
daughter, to his new son-in-law. 

Ras Guebra, to complete his plan, without any 
just cause, put in chains some of his own chiefs, 
for the purpose of raising money to make presents, 
and to bribe the chiefs of Tigre and the army, 
who were to be left by the Ras. Amongst others, 
he confined the head captain of his door, or gate- 
keeper, Ito Guebra Mariam, and took from him 
five hundred wakeahs of gold 5 a like sum from 
his Blitingatore Gabriott, and from several others. 
Bashaw Abdalla, who had been there three years 
chained with his sons, was stripped of every 
farthing of his property, and was still kept in 
confinement. These persons^ so inhumanly treated^ 


sent messengers to Guxo, to tell him that their 
master^ his friend^ had for no cause whatever 
chained them and taken their property; and 
Guxo^ knowing them to be always faithful ser- 
vants to Ras Guebra, sent one of his chief Baler- 
mals to beg of Ras Guebra to pardon them ; as, 
if they had even been guilty of a small fault, he 
ought to think of their former services. The 
latter returned for answer, by one of his Baler- 
mals, that they had been convicted of having 
continually sent messengers backward and for- 
ward to Has Welled Selass^, and that they were 
enemies both to himself and Guxo; adding, 
^^ For this reason I will keep them in chains 
as long as they live/' The same chiefs had 
recourse to the Ras for his interference ; but Ras 
Guebra returned the same kind of answ^ to his 
messenger as he did to Guxo's, saying, they 
had been proved to have sent messengers to 
Guxo, and were enemies both of the Ras and 

On Guxo's finding that the Ras had become 
acquainted with the whole of their plot, and that 
consequently he did not intend to march, he sent 
word to Ras Ilo of Lasta, desiring him to cut 
all trees and bushes, and to make a clear road for 
him, as he intended to march through Lasta to 
Edjow, his father's country. Ras Ilo told him 


that if he had any servants in Lasta they might 
clear the road for him, if not, to come and do 
it himself; which sharp rehuke did not much 
please him. 

Soon after, Guxo's messenger to the Ras 
arrived at Chelicut, hegging him not to be offended 
if he took possession of Edjow, as it belonged to 
him by inheritance from Gongula, Ras Alii, and 
Alligaz; and saying that, although Gojee was 
Ras Alligaz's own son, and he only Ras AUi's 
sister's son, still he thought he had most right to 
the country, he being a Christian, as well as his 
father and grandfather, and Gojee only a Mussul- 
man, like the great-grandfather Gongula. The 
Ras said he would not agree to any such attempt, 
as Lasta, How, and Edjow, were his allies ; and 
ended by declaring that, if he offered to march to 
either of them, he would immediately attack him, 
and assist them, and for ever put an end to his 
power. The warmth with which the Ras took up 
this affair had the desired effect, and kept Guxo 
at home. 

The locust this year committed great ravages, 
aud a considerable part of the country was 
covered with them, so as to produce a partial 
famine, especially in Ammerseem, where several 
thousands died with hunger; fifty pieces of 
salt, equal at the time to one dollar and a 


half, being given for one incur, which is about 
one English quart, of barley. Other districts 
were not quite so much distressed, as, for that 
price^ you could buy one bushel in Enderta, and 
in Tigre three karoos, equal to three pecks, for 
one dollar ; whereas, before the locust appeared, 
nine gibbertas, or bushels, might be bought for a 
dollar in the market of Adowa. 
^ The Ras kept his Christmas at Chelicut, and, on 
the 3rd of January, 1813, went to Antido. On 
his road he mounted his favourite horse Bulla^and 
rode to the plain of Bellesart, where he brought 
his horsemen to a sham fight } the old gentleman 
firing and loading again, at full gallop, with 
English pistols, as well as I or Mr. Coffin could 
do ; for, although upwards of seventy years of 
age^ he rides as lightly and as carelessly as any 
young man in the country. 

January 20th. Itsa Bede Mariam, formerly 
king, arrived at Ant^lo, to beg of the Ras to 
forgive every thing that had happened, on the 
part of Ras Guebra, as the latter acknowledged 
he had done wrong. Itsa Bede was put upon 
the throne, by the Degusmati Gabriel, Ras 
MichaeFs son) the latter being killed by Ras 
Alii of Edjow, Bede Mariam was dethroned by 
him, after being king only seven months, since 
which time he remained ivith Ras Guebra, and 


sometimes with Ras Welled Selass^^ but^ being a 
Roman Catholic, he agrees best.with Has Guebra^ 
who is a follower of that religion. The Ras 
would not listen to. his propositions, but said that 
if Ras Guebra would not withdraw his son from 
Walkay t, and deliver up the whole of the country 
belonging to Woldi Comfu, he would prove a 
worse enemy to him than ever he had been 

January 29th. Bede Mariam left Antklo, taking 
with him a great many Amhara, who Mdshed to 
return to Gondar, their native town, having been 
a long time in Tigr6 without hearing of their 
children and friends. The people of Tigr^ are 
better treated by their governors than the Am- 
hara; a poor man among the former can get 
some justice done him when wronged, but in 
Amhara or Gondar he dares not even wear a good 
cloth on his back for fear of being stripped by 
Guxo's and Ackly Marro's soldiers. A poor 
old faithful Amhara, who had been servant to 
Mr. Coffin for three years, said he wanted to go 
to Gondar to see his two sons and a daughter, 
whom he had left nine years before. Mr. Coffin 
gave him leave to depart, but wished him to buy 
a new cloth previously, that he might appear 
decent when he arrived at his native place ; but 
he replied, the rags would suit him best 3 ^* for,". 


he added^ ^^ if I have a new cloth on^ some of 
Guxo^s GaUa will strip me^ but^ if I have a ragged 
one^ they will leave it me, and that will be at 
least more decent than to go naked." He then 
set out on his journey, equipped as he wished, 
and in' twelve days we heard of his arrival with 
his children. From Chelicut, he went to Saharte 
the first day ; the second he crossed the Tacazz^ ; 
the third he reached Sugemet, in Samen; the 
fourth Inchetkaub, Ras Guebra's capital; and 
the fifth Mariam Wor, and Gondar; thus ac- 
comiplishing the journey in five days, although 
he was, by his own account, seventy-eight years 
of age. 

Although it has been a long time expected that 
Ras Welled Selass^ would march to Gondar, and 
place Tecla Gorgis upon the throne, matters ap- 
pear still as backward as ever ; as he is persuaded 
to wait for the Abuna from Egypt and take him 
with him. 

The kings now living in Abyssinia are as fol- 
low: Itsa Tecla Gorgis, in Waldubba; Itsa 
Ischias, in Gondar ; Itsa Guarlu, on the throne in 
that city ; Itsa Yonas, in Gojam ; Itsa Yoas, in 
Gondar; Itsa Bede Mariam, in Samen. 

They are all related to each other, and, as they 
boast, are descended from the true race of Mene- 
lect ; but the kings of Abyssinia have so many 


wives^ from far and near, that it makes it difficult 
to determine to whom the crown should descend; 
and this point is generally decided more by might 
than by right. 

Messengers continually came from Woldi 
Comfu; and his brother, Fit-aurari Suddal^ ar- 
riving, made the old Ras come at length to a 
determination; and accordingly, on the 5th of 
February, the drum was beat to assemble the 
army, and be in readiness to march against Abba- 
garva on the 6th, when we marched from Antalo 
to Esta, in Saharte, where the Ras meant to re- 
main a few days, until his troops should be all 
collected, and then to proceed direct to Gondar^ 
by way of Samen : but the priests, flocking from 
far and near, obliged him to lay aside his inten- 
tion and return to Antalo. Soon afterwards, the 
drum was again beat, for all Tigr^ to march \mder 
the command of Fit-aurari .Guebra Amlac, to 
Walkayt, against Hilier Mariam, who had by 
this time become very powerful. The chiefs who 
went under the Fit-aurari, though higher in 
office, were Blitingatore Wosen, and Palambarus 
Toclu, the sons of Nebrid Aram, and the chiefs 
of Shir^, altogether forming a strong army. 

February 20th. News was brought that Kan- 
tiva Sasinas and the sons of Baharnegash Subhart 
had been beaten by the sons of Shum Woldi of 


fellou; who had heen jomed by Arli and a 
)werfal district, called Gella Hatchin, one of 
le seven Gellas. A great number had been 
led on both sides, and the whole country of 
)inas and Subhart plundered of its cattle, but 
villages were burnt. The Ras immediately 
it for the chiefs on both sides, and, as they had 
fought without his leave, and appeared equally 
colpable, he made both parties pay an equal 
quantity of cattle, at the same time accepting 
five hundred cows from Arli and his allies, as a 
jIM^sent out of their plunder. 

March 19th. The joyful news reached the 
Has that the Tigr^ army had defeated Hilier 
Mariam, and had taken his brother, Ito Batri, and 
Asgas Sedit, the chief of Arbarchoho, prisoners, 
besides his camp-equipage, his women, and a 
great number of horse; leaving four hundred 
dead upon the field of battle. Hilier Mariam 
kad fought very bravely, but the Tigr^ muskets 
put his horse into confusion, which led to a gene- 
ral rout. 

The Has bestowed valuable presents upon the 
messengers : to the first, he gave a horse, spear, 
tod shield, with a fine piece of muslin; and to 
each of the others a mule. Chellica Comfii, a 
friend of mine, had ordered his servant to visit 
me with the news; so I also was obliged to part 


with a mule^ it being a regular custom^ all ove^ 
Abyssinia, to give a handsome reward to tbi| 
messerachj or bringer of good tidings, after H^ 
gaining of a battle, or on any other joyful evenly 
such as the birth of a child, &e. On such occa*^ 
sions, the household servants -of the great xasj^ 
plague their master until he consents to sen4l 
them to his nearest friend, or kindred^ knowing 
that they are sure to obtain a mule, a cloth^ oi^ 
some other article of value 5 shabby treatment 00 
such an occasion being considered a mark of 
hostility. In like manner, when one chief sen(b 
a messenger to another upon any important busi- 
ness, if the latter does not present the messenger 
with something of value, he is considered as an 

March 24th. News was brought that Subega- 
dis had plundered all his brother Sardie's country, 
and had even marched into Arramat; the Has 
immediately ordered Giralta, Tserra, x\smo^ «nd 
Derra, to unite with Arramat against him. On 
the approach of his assailants, Subegadis marched 
gradually back to his own district, and they fol- 
lowed him to Adergraat, to which place it had 
been his object to entice them ; where he gave 
them battle, and soon routed them in all direc- 
tions, killing and taking a great many prisoners,. 
and, among others, some of the Ras's relatives, 


lOm he would not release^ till the Ras had 
om to give him half of Agam^, and release his 
ther, Guebra Gnro, from confinement. The 
knowing from experience that it would be 
Iseless to march against him^ and being aware 
lat if he did it would be the means of destroy- 
ag the districts- of innocent people who had been 
tog suffering from the ravages of the locust, at 
fcngth^ after some hesitation, consented; and 
Juebra Guro was accordingly released, after 
laving remained eighteen months a prisoner, 
pfeuring which period he had learned to read the 
Psalms of David, though previously he could not 
tell one letter from another. 


The Ras marches against a Galla Chief — Surprise and Defeat i 
the Oallar— Illness of Pearce — ^Justice of the Ras — ^Pearce ^ 
comes worse — Is visited secretly hy the Ras — Pearce visits 1 
Ras's brother, Ito Debbib— Stones with Arabic Inscriptions 
Cry for the death of kings Yoas and Yonas — ^Lama — I 
Races — Review — Pearce is obliged by his malady to ret 
home-^His wife Trlngo-^Administration of the Sacrame 
— flis recovery — Murder of the king of Shoa — Sacred Spri 
— Grand Review — The Sacred Snake — Military Manoelj 
vres — Narrow Escape of Pearce and Coffin. 

April 5th. Just as the Ras had arrived at 
Chelicut, from Antklo, and was feasting with 
many chiefs, news was brought from the villages 
of Derger Aggerzeen, the frontiers of the Galla, 
that Kecty, a powerful chief of that nation, had 
crossed the plain below them on his way to Was- 
sermer, for the purpose of cutting oflF the arro, or 
salt caravan. 

The old Ras, on hearing this intelligence, never 
took another mouthful, but, jumping up imme- 
diately, called out the word, "CAwrw/'* which 
signifies, ^^ Saddle and be ready.'' I and Mr. 
Coffin instantly ran home, and were mounted and 
out, with some of our soldiers, as soon as the 
Ras himself; the rest of our men being absent on 


leave. We were soon afterwards joined by some 
ef the Ras's soldiers, and we acted the part of 
Fit-aurari in this inconsiderable division, riding 
on with all speed until sunset, when we stopped, 
&at the Ras might have time to come up with us 
and give his orders. On his arrival, he directed 
OS to go stiU forward, although it was quite dark, 
about which time we reached Armunteller; where, 
before day-light, a great number of men and 
women came to us, with bread, maize, &c. Many 
of the Enderta troops had also, by this time, 
jomed us, together with Bashaw Dingerze of 
Tigr^, who happened to arrive on business, and 
who expressed himself greatly concerned at the 
imprudence of the Ras, in venturing himself, with 
such a handful of men, against the Galla; on 
which the old man, looking at me and laughing, 
sidd, ** See how frightened these Tigr^ fellows 
are at the Galla !" adding contemptuously to 
them, ^^ Why, look at Pearce, who went down 
throughout Arrata by himself V 

After taking a little bread and maize, the day 
began to break ; we were then upon the high 
moimtain, covered with woods, exactly over 
Wassermer ; and the Ras immediately gave orders 
for every one to be as silent as possible, and not 
attempt to shoot or hunt the deer or game, with 
which the place abounds. After this caution, we 


began to inarch down the mountain, and, in abon! 
half an hour, being clear of the woody part, ad 
the sun just rising, we could see the Galla en- 
camped below 3 they had also observed us, an^ 
were soon mounted and at the foot of the moun- 
tain, before we could lead our horses down thi 
rocks, which we did with great difficulty. Durinj 
this time, several of the Ras's foot soldiers hai 
descended, and were giving battle to the advanced 
foot of the Galla. At length, the cry of Gaverset 
Badinsah ! being heard in all quarters, as well af 
a. loud volley of musketry, the Galla immediatelj 
became sensible of the Ras's presence^ turned 
their horses to the plain, and rode off at full 
speed : scarcely any of our horses had got down 
in time, so that, after a three hours' chase, wc 
could not come up with their horse ; but of the 
foot very few escaped. We remained at Wasser- 
mer until the arro cofla had passed, and the^ 
after hunting hogs, &c., for two days, returned to 

About this time I became very ill, from a com- 
plaint in my head, especially about the forehead; 
for many months before I had felt pains in my 
eyes and forehead after much fatigue, but I now 
became so very unwell, that I was obliged to b^ 
the Ras to let me go home. He said, that I had 
better remain with him, and that I might lie 


quietly in his wife's house^ close to his own, 
where he should be able to see me frequently. 
To this proposal I consented, and inunediately 
cent for a Gojam Dofter, who professed great 
skill in medicine and charms. A swelling had by 
this time begun on the left side of my face, which 
gave me great pain, and the Dofter ordered me to 
eat nothing but goat's flesh. On hearing this, the 
Ras said, ** Give Pearce every goat that is brought 
to me, either as a present or as a gibbri ;*' and, 
from this day forward, I received great numbers, 
which I always divided with Mr. Coffin. 

While I lay sick, a dispute arose at Monsis 

between some Christian Zellans, (cowkeepers) 

and Taltals, concerning the boundaries of their 

grass on the mountain ; in which one of the Taltals 

was killed, and the remainder, being subjects of 

, the Ras, came with all speed to make their com- 

Pplaint. The Ras immediately sent out and had 

^ me offenders brought before him, when three 

were found guilty of the murder, and speared 

immediately by the relations of the deceased, at 

the Ras's gateway. This proceeding caused a 

great murmur amongst the priests, who said, it 

was too much to kill three Christians for one 

Mahometan. The old Ras, who was never known 

to do any thing barbarous or unbecoming, and 

was always a very merciful prince, replied " If I 


had killed a hundred Mahometans for one C] 
tian, you would have said Edme heo kar, [Lon 
age to you] ; but that is not my law^ for all th 
are concerned in murder ought to die." 
added, '' You have forgotten' Ras Michael, 
whom you dared not have spoken on such ma 

April 24th- [Baler Mariam] . The Ras marchfl 
for Chelicut, and ordered me to be carried on 
couch before him, but I begged he would let m 
ride> as I could manage very well by being suj 
ported on both sides. By the time we reach 
Chelicut, the pain I felt became intolerable 
and the swelling under the left eye and on tfa 
side of my nose became very large. I wished m 
attendant, the Dofter, to cut it, but he would not 
agree to this ; on which I sent for Mr. Coffin, who 
cut it in two places, but without affording me any 
relief. Friends and acquaintances from Antilo 
and other parts, who had received intelligence 
of my malady, began to flock in, but the super- 
stitious Dofter would not allow any one to see me, 
so that they were obliged to content themselves 
with enquiring only at the door. The good old 
Ras, in order to conceal his visits to me, used to 
set out as if going to the church to prayers, but, 
instead of doing so, he climbed over the high 
church- wall into my garden, and so entered my 

peaece's RECOVIBRT. 121 

apartment without being perceived. He did this 
at three different times, until I had become eased 
of my pain ; which was at last effected by an 
operation performed by my own hands with a 
razor. A great quantity of blood flowed from the 
wound; and, with a little difficulty, I separated the 
large bone that formed the bridge of my nose. 

When the Ras visited me, he used to sit by my 
side, pitying my fate and asking me repeatedly 
what I wanted, and persuading me to drink brandy 
to alleviate the pain. Of this liquor I had always 
great plenty, for the Ras himself never tasted any, 
and he had, for some months before, given me the 
privilege of receiving all that was sent to him, or 
made in his premises. I now began to get much 
better ; and the Ras discharged my Dofter, who 
wanted to hang a string of charms about my neck 
and head, to which I would not consent. I can 
form no conjecture as to the origin of this disease, 
though it is'verj^ common in the country. A few 
days after the operation I was able to walk about, 
and soon gathered strength, but I still experienced 
shooting pains in my forehead, especially after 
meals. • 

At this period the Ras's brother, Ito Debbib, 
invited me to bis town- house, at Woger Arreva, 
where he said I should soon recover my health y 
and he promised to shew me some curious stones, 

VOL. I. G 


like thoBe at Axum^ not far firom Us homie, at a 
place called Quened ; and^ by permission of the 
Ras^ I accompanied his brother to his residence^ 

Two days after our arrival at Woger Arreva, 
which is situated on the top of a mountain that 
forms the boundary of Enderta, in the Telfain^ 
he took me to Queued^ having several men with 
us with instruments for digging. Quened is a 
small village5 on each side of a swamp^ full of 
springs^ which form .themselves into a brook that 
runs into the river Dola. A vast number of wil- 
lows^ called in the country qtieha, whence it 
tal^es its name^ grow in all parts of the swamp. 
Ito Debbib first shewed me all. his gardens, which 
he employs priests to cultivate; and here I saw 
peaches, grapes, and other fruits, and, among the 
rest, some trees covered with white grapes, of which 
they take no care, but leave them as food for the 
birds, the priests holding white grapes in detesta- 
tion ; about which I had a long dispute with one 
of them, greatly to Ito's satisfaction. 

He afterwards took me down to the plain 
below, and shewed me a large stone, about six 
feet by four, lying upon the ground. It ap- 
peared to me to have been formerly covered 
with an inscription, which, at a short distance, I 
could perceive more plainly than when I looked 
close at it. He also pointed out to me a spot 


wlierc lie two broken obelisks; they appeared 
never to have had any inscription upon them^ and 
i?7ere very small. There were also seyeral large 
stones, curiously cut, like those at Axum, lying 
about. Ito Debbib ordered his men to dig where, 
as lie told me, the inhabitants had several times 
dug before, thinking to find treasure : the men 
soon turned up several stpnes, all about three 
feet long and a foot square, having inscriptions 
on them^ which I imagined were Arabic. With 
Ito Debbib's consent, 1 sent a mule to Antido, 
to fetch Nuserella, a Greek, who coidd read that 
language. In almost every part in which they 
dug the labourers found the same kind of stones, 
and one was of an oval shape, and certainly had 
formed a part of some building. This stone had 
an inscription upon it that was neither. Greek, 
Arabic, nor Ethiopic. There is no church at 
Queha, but there is a mmtrollohy or holy 
water, to which those afflicted with disease re- 
sort from far and near to bathC;. It is kept by 
some monks, who obtain a good living from the 
patients who visit it. This place is about one 
mile and a half from Weger Arreva, on the Felleg* 
darro road, and about ten miles from MunteUa^ 
where, I have been told, there are other ruins 
buried; which, though I have often searched for, 
I never could find. 

G 2 


After Ito Debbib had shewn me all that lie 
deemed curiou85 we returned to the town, where 
he shewed me great kindness, though two years 
before this he was my greatest enemy ; indeed^ 
he was one who wanted to kill me, and make Mr. 
Salt and his followers prisoners. The next day 
Nuserella arrived, and, before we took our first 
meal, we rode but to Queha. Nuserella looked at 
the inscriptions, which were as plain as if just 
engraved, and began to read, Bismilla crock- 
mame earockiem^ — ^^ Stop, stop V* cried Ito 
Debbib, '^ that is enough!'' and the thought of 
its being Mahometan made him order the place 
to be filled up with earth immediately, expressing, 
as we rode home, some doubts about Nuserella's 
religion, and believing him to be no Christian, 
because he could read Arabic, or, as he called it, 

After this, I remained several days with him, 
during which time I went with him down the 
mountain of Muntella, into the territories of the 
Telfain, to watch the motions of the GaUa at 
Sheekot, while the arro passed Wassermer in 
safety. On our return, a messenger met us from 
the Ras, to acquaint Ito Debbib that he wished 
him to attend the cry for. the deaths of the late 
kings, Yoas and Yonas, the news of which had 
just arrived. Accordingly, instead of going to 


Woger Arreva, we repaired with all speed to 
Antsdo, where we found the Ras and the 
country-people assembled at the cry^ in the 
market-place. Yoaa died in Gondar^ and Yonas 
died a few days before him in Gojam $ both very 
poor, without leaving sufficient even to purchase 
a coffin to receive their remains^ or money enough 
iorfettart or toscar. 

June 10th. After remaining three days at 
Ant^o, the period usually allotted for the cry, 
the Ras went to Lama, on the frontier of the 
Galla, to thatch a church, that had been built by 
his orders, against the ensuing runs. I still found 
myself ill in my head, but did not like to ask per« 
mission to remain behind, knowing how much the 
Ras wished me to be near him wherever he went. 

At Lama we remained until the beginning of 
July, the Ras being always employed in riding 
about from place to place, no other person being 
seen on horseback except me and Mr. Coffin ; 
every other horseman, gunner, or even officer, 
being kept hard at work by the old gentleman, 
in clearing the wood and bushes from a piece of 
land that he had ordered to be cultivated ; there 
were also about five hundred ploughmen kept at 
work^ ploughing and sowing; and he also ordered 
vines to be planted, in several places where he 
thought them most secure from the cold. 


During the time we remidned in this beautifal 
place> though I found myself very ill^ the Ras 
kept me alive by obliging me and Mr. Coffin to 
ride races \dth him over the ploughed giround^ 
more than ten times a day; and^ when he thought 
that our own horses had had enough^ he would 
liiake us mount others of his stud^ and so keep 
us at it all day, and the rest of his people at 
labour^ ejccept when the rain came on and drove 
us to oiir tents. 

I often observed the chiefs whom we had at 
work watch an opportunity to lay themselves 
down to sleep, or get to some quiet comer where 
they could play at chess 5 while we, from being 
more favoured by the Ras, Were never able to 
escape from his sight. There was no other tent 
pitched, but the one occupied by me and Mr. 
Coffin : the Ras having thought fit to have a 
gqja made for himself, and thatched like those of 
the rest of his chiefs. Ours, being an English 
tent, sheltered us tolerably well ; though we Were 
all of us; and especially myself, heartily glad 
when a messenger arrived to inform the Ras that 
the army from Walkayt had just succeeded in 
crossing the Tacazz^, without losing a soul, not- 
withstanding it had begun to rise, and that it 
would be at Gambela in three days. On receiving 
this intelligence, the Ras gave orders to the chiefs, 


whom he left in charge to superintend the busi- 
ness that was to be done at Lama, and the next 
day we set out for Mucculla ; where, after amusing 
ourselves on the road with hunting for guinea- 
fowl and partridges, we arrived in the evening. 

I remained at Mucculla with the Ras until he 
had reviewed his newly arrived troops, and re- 
ceived the usual trophies, which did not exceed 
sixty-three in number ; this seemed to dissatisfy 
the old man, though there were about one thou- 
eand prisoners. Among the men of rank taken 
were Asgas Sedit, Ito Batri Ola, and among the 
Ozoros of rank, Ozoro Gumbur, and Ozoro Wo-* 
ver, the latter being the kept-mistress of Gus- 
marsh Hilier Mariam, and the other, Ozoro 
Gumbur, having ventured to accompany her 
cousin, the Gusmarsh, to see him beat the Tigr^ 
dandies, as she called them, meaning something 
Hke dolts or asses in our English tongue ; with 
these there came a large train of young women. 
The Ras, on this occasion, permitted every one 
to do as he pleased with his prisoners, when some 
kept them as servants, and others parted with 
them for a mule a head. 

After this review I went to the Ras, and told 
him that I was becoming too ill to go about with- 
out very great pidn, and that even my appetite 
had begun to fail. At first he tried to persuade 


me to sleep in his wife's hotkse, aad to send for 
Tringo, my wife, to attend me ; but, having con- 
yinced him that I should be much better in my 
own house, he at last consented to my leaving 
him; and I returned home and kept, my bed« 
There I remained nearly a month, while Tring-o 
tried all sorts of herbs, roots, &c., after her 
country fashion, to cure me ; four pieces of v^ry 
thin white bone came from the roof of my mouthy 
^nd twelve pieces and all the gristle from my 
nose ; I also became for a time lock-jawed, so that,i 
to keep me alive, Tringo used to pour a thin kind 
of nourishment, called asmitt^ down my throaty 
through a small reed. Numbers of my acquaints 
ance came to see me, and, in spite of the super- 
stition of my neighbours, I advised them all to 
enter ; and they would sit and talk to me, though 
I could not, for many days, answer. They fre- 
quently made me uneasy by their crying, in their 
country fashion, as if I had really been dead. 
By the Ras's orders, and at my request, AUicar 
Barhe, and all the priests of the Trinity Church, 
and M ariam Guddervitee, attended upon me, to 
administer the holy sacrament for the last time, 
or, as they termed it, to a mungardiweger [one 
about to depart.] Though very weak, and not able 
to utter a word, yet I could, by this time, open 
my mouth a little, owing to the relief I had 


experienced from Tringo's poultices of herbs, 
&c. ; and I retained my senses and memory as 
perfectly as if I had been in the best bodily 

The ceremony of administering the sacrament 
was performed as follows : early in the morning, 
the head priest, Allicar Barhe, and my own priest, 
Guebra Mariam, came to demand my last con- 
fession. I could not answer them to be under- 
stood, but, through Tringo, I made signs that 
satisfied him, or them. They first asked me my 
christian name, and whether I had received the 
holy sacrament on my baptism day ; and bade 
me now take it, as a cleansing from all sins past, 
and to consider it as a physic for the soul, that 
Jesus Christ had in his tender mercy bestowed 
on me, to cure and save it from everlasting per- 
dition. They required of me, in case my soul 
should not depart from me at this present mo- 
ment, through God^s mercy, to abstain from all 
sins hereafter, to have no other wife than the one 
I had, to turn monk, and to give two. thousand 
pieces of salt to the poor. My will was then 
made, in favour of my wife, my priest, slaves, 
and servants, leaving to each such portion of my 
property as I thought right; and, when all this 
was settled, the church carpets were brought in, 
and spread on the groiuid, and I was ordered to 
G 5 


be dressed in a cloth that had never been defiled^ 
and to be laid on a clean carpet. Shortly after- 
wards the priests came in, singing hymns, and 
dressed in their holy apparel, and I received the 
sacrament from a priest, who first gave me a cross 
to kiss } after which they said some long prayer, 
and departed. 

When all this was over I felt quite easy, 
except that I was now and then troubled with 
the cries kept up at the door by my acquaint- 
ance, who had assembled in great numbers to do 
me honour; indeed, the whole ceremony was 
carried on as if I had been the king himself. 
Instead of dying, as all expected, I soon began to 
get better, and the priest, who frequently visited 
me, did not forget to hint to me what physic 
the holy sacrament was, both for the body and 
soul; and I also considered, but said nothings 
that, as I had two thousand pieces of salt to pay 
for it, the physic was rather dear, the value 
amounting to full sixty-six dollars. In the begin- 
ning of August, I could again walk about the 

The Ras this year kept at Chelicut his fast 
for the Blessed Virgin, which commences on the 
1st of August, or Narsa, and ends on the six-^ 
teenth. During this fast, the old man, like many 
others, always slept upon the ground. 


About this time^ messengers from Gondar ar- 
rived^ who had crossed the Tacazz^ on onguars, or 
rafts^ with the messerach, or good tidings^ from 
Ras Guxo^ that his general^ Ito Woldi Raphael^ 
had defeated Munet Guarlu^ of Gojam, who had 
rebelled ; and it was supposed that Guarlu was 
killed^ as he had not been heard of since the 
battle. Both Woldi Raphael and Guarlu were 
Guxo's sons-in-law. It is frequently the case 
in Abyssinia, that, if a soldier kills a chiefs merely 
for the U9ual trophy, he does not own he did so, 
on account of the danger he is likely to incur 
from the chiefs relations. 

News was also brought of the death of the king, 
Wosen Segued of Shoa: the messenger who 
brought this intelligence had been detained some 
time by Liban, on suspicion of his being sent 
to Gojee, who was still at enmity with him. The 
king, Wosen Segued, was assassinated by one of 
his slaves. He had gone into one of the apart- 
ments to sleep with his wife, which, like the 
apartments common in all Abyssinia, was a small, 
round, thatched house, built behind his own house 
or hall; the doorway being in general low, the 
thatch very thick, and easily kindled Mdth the 
smallest spark. The slave set fire to the thatch 
while the king and queen were asleep ; but, being 
soon awakened, the king rose and dragged the 


queen through the flames without Bustaining 
much injury^ when the slave stabbed the king 
in the ribs, and he fell immediately. The queen's 
screams were soon heard in all parts of the pre- 
mises ; the king survived a few days, and the slave 
confessed that some chiefs, who were then prison- 
ers in irons, had promised to make a great man 
of him, besides giving him some gold in hand, 
if he would kill the king. The king, before 
he died, placed his son Woldi Sarvir, after- 
wards Sarlu Selasse, on the throne, and he re- 
venged himself upon the chiefs for his father's 
death. This happened in June, 1813; Sarlu 
Selass^, like his father, became friends with the 
Ras, sending and receiving presents. 
. Mascarram, or September 1st, Kudus Yohannis 
(or St. John) is the first day in the year. During 
the five days of Pogme, which are after the last 
days of August, I had been advised to go into the 
river to bathe, and I found myself quite recovered. 
It is customary for all people to wash themselves 
in the rivers, on the third day of the five of 
Pogme, which is the holy-day of Kudus Raphael, 
and is as strictly observed as the eleventh of Tur, 
or January, which is Christ's baptism. The Ras 
had gone to MuccuUa, to keep his new year's 
day, where he remained until the 11th, purposely 
to receive a great number of- his chiefs, who 


attended him to church. This holy-day, the 1 1th 
of September, is held in veneration on account 
of an old monk, called Abba Annemier, who 
fought, about three hundred years ago, against 
the Galla, and was killed in battle on the spot 
where he is now reverenced. It is said that 
he turned into a snake, which is constantly to be 

This sacred spot is about a mile and a half 
firom Mucculla, in the plain of Gambela. There 
is no church, but a spring of water, called mou 
trolloh (holy water) whither thousands flock, to 
be cured of their diseases. I have indeed known 
people come from Adowa and Gondar, to procure 
a little of the sacred earth from this spot, which 
is sewed up as a charm, and worn about a person 
afflicted with diseases. Round the spring large 
^tones are piled up like a wall, and two large 
trees grow very near it, being the only trees or 
bushes for many hundred yards round. Deter- 
mined to look closer into the superstitious 
notions attached to this spot, I got up one morn- 
ing, under the pretence of going to bathe, but 1 
dared not take any of my servants with me, for 
fear of their prejudices, and therefore told them 
to take my horses and mules to a place where 
they might eat some young grass, while I went 
to wash myself. I then went, just as the sim 


had risen^ and lifted up some of the stones, in 
doing which I saw four or five snakes, small and 
large, w}iich ran immediately under the stones 
beneath; 1 afterwards replaced the stones, a$ 
they had been left there by the priests^ fbif the 
snakes to drink out of, and returned to my 
servants, perfectly satisfied of the folly of those 
ignorant people; though I said nothing at the 
time, I had, before a month was out, strong rea- 
sons for breaking my silence, as will subsequently 

September 4th. Finding myself quite well, I 
went to the Ras at Mucculla; numbers of people 
had already begun to arrive, not only to visit the 
sacred place of Abba Annemier, but also to see 
how matters would go on at Antalo, the l/th of 
this month being Mascal, when the yearly income 
is received, and every chief, with his troops, is 
reviewed : to such as the Ras thinks fit he gives 
preferment, while those he is displeased with 
are put back or dismissed from office, which 
seldom happens ; however, every one of the 
higher rank strives to outdo his neighbour in the 
discipline and splendid appearance of himself and 
his troops. 

September 11th. Being the aforesaid holiday, 
we began after sunrise to descend the hill of 
Mucculla, at the foot of which were waiting a 


great number of horsemen^ and^ as soon aB we 
had reached the plam, I and Mr. Coffin mounted 
our horses and jomed with the rest in sham- 
fights^ though very few Uked to sport with us 
at dose quarters^ as the report of our pistols and 
blunderbusses often put their horses into confu- 
sion and made them ungovernable. Proceeding in 
this manner^ we shortly arrived at the sacred* 
place^ where a dass was built with the boughs of 
trees and marshella stakes. Here we did not find 
the priests going on in their usual noisy way of 
singings but were surprised to see them dragging 
along a poor Amhara priest, as if they meant to 
kill him instantly. He was brought before the 
Ras, and the priests called out that he had killed 
the sardocj or saint. On inquiry, it appeared 
that this poor fellow, being a traveller from the 
Amhara, on his road to Axum, had seen the 
snake as he was washing in the sacred water, and 
had crushed the head with a stone, after which 
he called to the people near, and told them that 
he had killed a snake, when, to his utter astonish-- 
ment, he was seized, and the priests insisted that 
he should be instantly put to death; but the 
tender old Ras, who did not like to take life, 
said, ** Pei*haps the poor man may be mad, we 
will chain him, and see if he is in his right 
senses ;'' which enraged the priests beyond mea- 


sure. They swore they would have his blood spilt 
on the spot. I could not keep silence any lon^er^ 
and stood up and said, ^^Ber Welled Selass^^ 
hear me,'' and from that moment not a syllable 
was uttered until I had finished my story. I 
then related that, some months before, I hap- 
pened to come to wash myself at this place in 
order to cure a complaint in my thigh, and I saw 
four or five snakes, among which, I added (think- 
ing to help the poor man) was one larger than 
that which had been killed, and hence I supposed 
they had come from some distance for water^ 
and that the snake, now dead, might probably 
from a similar cause have wandered to the spot. 
The Ras, upon my saying this, insisted that the 
wall should be well looked into, and, on the 
removal of the first stone, a snake was discovered 
between the stones near the same place, where 
the sacred reptile used to have water put before 
him. This statement immediately created great 
joy, and the prisoner was released, though severely 
reprimanded, and punished with a few smart 
stripes from the whip of one of the Ras's sol- 

The service then proceeded as usual. A large 
quantity of frankincense was burnt at a small dis- 
tance from the wall in which the snake was, and 
the altar was brought, according to the yearly 


custom, from the church Yasous, on the hiU of 
Mucculla, and the sacrament administered to those 
who 'wished to receive it. After the service, the 
Ras mounted his horse, and we ail rode over the 
plains in the usual confused manner, it seldom 
happening on such occasions that several persons 
are not killed. I felt extremely happy that I had 
been, on this occasion, the means of saving an 
innocent man's life, though I had not dared to 
explain the whole extent of my discovery re- 
specting the snakes. 

September 12th. We went to Chelicut, where 
some Galla chiefs had arrived with a number of 
sangas, and the Ras gave me my choice of them, 
in exchange for my M ascal cow, I and Mr. Coffin 
being allowed a cow every month, as a standing 
order, and, when on service, one every three days. 
We had as many sheep as we wished for, and I 
have before said all the goats brought were 

* It appears, from the above statement, that Pearce has dealt 
somewhat hardly with the Ras, in speaking of him as the most 
miterly of human beings, since, besides the allowances mentioned 
in this place, he was entitled to a large and regular supply of 
salt, and to all the brandy made on the Ras's premises, to say 
nothing of occasional p/esents. The truth, probably, is that the 
Ras, from long and difficult experience, had learned, like Eliza- 
beth of England and Frederick of Prussia, that money forms the 
smews of war, and therefore abstained from the reckless waste 
and profusion in which most of his contemporary chiefs indulged. 


September 14th. We went to Aiititlo^ I and 
Mr. Coffin taking with us *every soldier^ servant, 
or boy, that we could muster, dressed in the best 
attire we could procure for them, with ne\^ ^c- 
coutrements for our horses and mules ^ and on the 
16th the part of the army to which we were in 
' general attached was retdewed : we joined them, 
dressed in English military uniforms which Mr. 
Suit had left us. All eyes were fixed upon us, 
and, being with the horse of Enderta, we were 
reviewed before the Tigr^ matchlock-men^ who 
were about five thousand, commanded by Bashaw 
Gabriott. After we had gone through the usual 
fantastic manoeuvres, and were riding out of 
the court, the musket-men began to fire before we 
had entirely passed them — a circumstance that 
we had always been cautious of at other times, 
bilt which to-day we happened to neglect. The 
consequence was, that we had one man killed, 
and Mr. CoflGm's horse being shot through the 
hind-leg, he was obliged to make his escape on 
foot. These accidents happen every Mascal, on 
account of the greater number of the gunners 
having their muskets previously loaded with iron 
shot, and, having no means of drawing the charge, 
they, rather than be at the loss of one rotmd of 
powder, will fire in this random manner, for it is 
to be observed that every soldier in Abyssinia 

THE AEVI£W. 189 

fisda his own powder. I persuaded the Ras to 
istttie an order, thAt no one in future should fire 
alter be entered the market-phuse^ but that this 
part of the ceremony should be gone through 
at Ouner Takley Himanute^ the place where they 
first assemble*. 

After the review was over we took leave o* 
the Ras and followed our people^ who had taken 
the body of the dead man^ by my desire^ to 
Chelicut^ to be buried there ; and, having given 
the priest a small sum for a fettart for our poor 
servant, we again set out for Antklo, to see the 
remainder of the review. It lasted three days ; 
Enderta and the neighbouring districts as far as 
Agatn^ were reviewed the first day, and they 
brought in their cattle. The Ras is always 
seated on these occasions upon a high gallery 
to receive the income, and at some distance from 
him are seated his secretaries, who write an 
account of the cattle, clothes, &c., that are 
brought into the court by the servants of the 
chiefs to whom they belong; after which, the 
chiefs themselves appear at the head of the 

* From what I have learned from Mr. Coffin, there appears 
to be very little doubt that this apparent accident originated in 
the ill-will and treachery of some of the chiefe, who were dis- 
satisfied with the marked attention and distinction with which 
the Ras treated our two countrymen. Indeed, the Ras seemed 
to suspect as much himself. — Editor. 


troops of the respective districts, displaying their 
prowess in a manner that to any European 
would appear barbarous, at the same time inaking 
an extremely warlike show, notwithstanding' their 
want of discipline. 

Tigr^ was reviewed on the second day, ivith 
the neighbouring districts as far as Ammerseexn, 
Wojjerat, and Agow. On the third day Guxo 
reviews his troops, &c., in the same manner at 
Deverertavor, his capital, in Begemder; Ackly 
Marro at Gondar, Has Guebra at Inchetkaub, and 
Ras Ilo at Socotta. In every province, indeed, 
throughout Abyssinia, this custom is observed 
on the seventeenth day of Mascarram, called 
Mascal, or the feast of the holy cross. At the 
close of the first day's review, the high-priests 
of the different churches appear in the court, 
carrying large crosses, and singing, rather than 
saying, the first chapter of Habbakuk. 


Death of the deposed king Itsa Ischias — Proceedings in a case of 
Murder — Execution— Escape of the Culprit— Law relative to 
Murder — March of the Army from Chelicut — Hikeer Mussal^— 
Dacer — Aspect of the Country — ^The Aggerzeen, a species of 
Deer — Return to Chelicut — King Tecla Gorgis entreats, the 
Ras to march to Gondar — ^Entertainment of the Ras, when on 
march, by the Chiefs — ^Mr. Co£5n stung by a Scorpion — Feast 
at Moi Agenzean — Entry of the Ras into Axum — Meeting of 
Tecla Gorgis and the Ras — Ozoro Dinkemagh — Ozoro Duster 
— ^Wells — Gold Coins found at Axum — Giddams, or Sanctu- 
aries — Customs respecting Visiters and Travellers — Interview 
with the king — Entertainment given to the Ras by Ozoro 
Duster — ^The King-Snake — ^Meeting at the Church — ^The Cry- 
ing Cross — Picture of the Virgin Mary. 

Aftbr the review was over, I remained at Ant^lo 
with the Ras, until Abba Garorr, October 5th, 
when I went to Chelicut, the Ras coming on the 
foUowuig day, with the intention of passing some 
months in comfort, there being no rumour of 
war. , The death of the deposed king Itsa Ischias, 
father of Itsa Guarlu, the present king, was 
announced about this time. He died on Sep- 
tember 13th, 1813 ; the Ras kept only one day's 
cry for him, though he was his father-in-law, 
through his late wife Ozoro Mantwaub. The Ras, 
after remaining nearly a month at Chelicut quite 


undisturbed, began to feel inaction tiresome^ and 
therefore determined to build a new church at 
Comfu, a short distance from Chelicut. Ac- 
cordingly, the drum was beat in the market-place 
of Antklo, for all Enderta and the adjoining dis- 
tricts to be ready to march to Dacer, every man 
bringing with him a rope and an axe, on the 
following Thursday, 

The day before we left Chelicut, a woman had 
brought in chains a poor miserable object^ whom 
she accused of having killed her husband; the wit- 
nesses also arrived from the small village of Gibba, 
to which they belonged. When the Ras had heard 
the whole story and examined the witnesses^ he 
found the man guilty of murder, though ap- 
parently without malice, and told the woman, 
agreeably to the law, to do as she pleased with 
him. She replied, " I have no one but myself; I 
have no relation; neither have I a spear or 
knife.'' The Ras said, ^* Then you must hang 
him." She again replied, " How can I do that 
by myself ? I have got a mushchamy [a leather 
rope] it is true, but 1 cannot hang him alone." 
The Ras then ordered some of the groom-boys 
sibout the house to assist her in hanging the man 
to the darro-tree, on the green before the house. 
** God preserve you a thousand years !" said tie 
woman, adding, in an under-tone, ^^ His relations 


are all here, and they will not have far to carry 
his body, as he belongs to the church." Mariam 
Guddervitee Takly, one of the Ras's stable- 
grooms, and some other of the slaves, had the 
management of the afibir. When they came to 
the darro-tree, which is as easily climbed as a 
ladder, they helped the woman up with one end 
of the mushcham in her hand, shewing her which 
was the best bough to tie it to. Takly, not- 
withstanding the woman had promised to give 
him plenty of butter for his trouble, now put the 
poor object's two hands within the mmhcfiamf 
round the neck, and, after tying it, ordered the 
woman to draw up the mushcham, while they 
would lift him from off the large stone they had 
made him stand upon. Accordingly, she did this, 
aud made it well fast, and then came down to 
behold him hanging, at the same time exclaiming, 
^^ Blessed be Mary Ann, the mother of God, who 
has given me revenge for my husband ! bad as 
he was, I have stood true to him." After he had 
hung for some time, the crowd that stood to look 
cm cried often to her, " Why woman, he has 
been dead long ago!" "Thank God for that !" 
said she, f'but they shall not have my mu^A- 
cham to bury with him." Accordingly, she, 
with the help of Takly, climbed up the tree and 
loosed the mushcham^ while Takly took it from 


his neck. The relations immediately came to 
take up the body, which they were allowed to do; 
but, before they had got ten yards, the dead maa 
set off, without being carried, and ran into the 
Trinity church- yard, where he was safe, even 
though he had killed a thousand persons. The 
woman, seeing this, was enraged and ran to the 
Ras's gateway crjdng, " Abbate^ Abbate V* She 
obtained admittance, and told the Ras that the 
man had not been hung long enough ; the Ras, 
who had already heard the story, laughed and 
said to the woman, " Would you wish to kill 
a man that God will not permit to die f He hung 
long enough to have killed a cat." She an- 
swered, '^ Let me have him up again, and I will 
pull at his legs till I break his neck/* *^ You fool- 
ish woman !" replied the* Ras, " would you op- 
pose the will of God t" Seeing that the old Ras 
looked grave when he said this, she believed it 
was God*s will that the man should not die, and 
her spirit failed her, as she said, in a very low and 
sorrovdul tone, ^^ Though he is such an ill* 
formed creature, I have seen him do things that 
nobody else could do. The locust never touched 
the little corn he had behind his house; and 
though we used , to make a fire to smoke them 
away we could not save ours as he did.'* She 
immediately went to the church and begged his 


forgiveness, and they afterwards lived good neigh- 
bours as usual; indeed, I heard subsequently that 
he became her husband. 

The law in Abyssinia stands thus in cases of 
murder : after the fact has been proved before the 
chief, he passes the sentence of death ; when, 
should the deceased party. have no other relation 
but a female, though she may have a husband, 
friends, or other connections, yet she, being 
nearest related to him, must strike the first blow, 
either with a spear or with a knife, when her 
acquaintances dispatch him immediately. With- 
out the formality of her striking the first blow, 
the friends and relations of the woman would be 
reckoned by the offender's relations to have spilt 
their blood without just cause. As soon as the 
sentence of death has been passed, the deceased's 
family may, if it be agreed upon, take cattle in 
lieu of the murderer's life ; one hundred head of 
cattle being the customary redeeming price. 
When the offender is put to death, the relations 
bury his body in the church, which is permitted 
by the laws 5 but those who kill themselves are not 
allowed this privilege of interment within the 
church-wall. If a chief insists upon ^ p^rty taking 
an equivalent for life, he can do so ; but then, 
whatever fine is agreed upon must be paid in the 
presence of the Shummergildas. This law passed 

VOL. I. H 


in the reign of Tarlack Yasous, the king, and 
was again 'proclaimed by Ras Michael Suhul, and 
afterwards repeated by Ras Welled Selass^. 

November 12th, We left Chelicut, when the 
Ras had risen from his sleep after dinner, and en- 
camped in the evening at' Hiker Helleta, a rich 
plain, abounding in marshes and small streams, 
which supply the little river of Chelicut, and those 
rivers that run through Gambela, a fine part of 
the country, but always haunted by the Galla. 
Next morning we marched to the Dola, a stream 
which empties itself into the river Gibba, and 
rises in Derva, another long marshy valley. 
Thence we went to Hiker Mussal, where we 
encamped upon the bank of the river Argulta, 
which rises at the mountain of Dacer from many 
springs 5 here we remained until all our wood- 
cutters had arrived. Hiker Mussal is a very 
large town, inhabited by brave Christians, who 
defend their district against the Galla and Telfain. 
We next passed to the town of Dacer, which, . 
like all others upon the frontiers of the Galla and 
Taltal, is built as close as the houses can possibly 
be placed. to each other, with a high wall round 
the whole. There is a great square in the middle, 
large enough to hold all their cattle ; the houses 
have all flat tops, within the walls, to which they 
adjoin; and the inhabitants get upon them to 


defend themselves when attacked by the Taltal : 
there is bat one gate of entrance to the town. 
The Galla seldom come thus far norths though the 
Taltals sneak about and kill many, such as boys 
looking after cattle^ or people employed in the field. 
About two hours after we had passed the town, 
we ascended into some woods of fine large firs 
and kouleSf the latter much resembling the olive. 
In this spot the Ras pitched his tent, in the snug- 
gest place he could pick out, towards the thickest 
part of the wood, and we made our gqfas as close 
together as possible, that our fires might be the 
closer to each other, and create the more heat ; 
for, before the sun went down, we began to feel the 
cdld, and, ere midnight, I was glad to get close to 
the fire, with two large cloths over me. In the 
morning, our sensations and the resemblance this 
spot bore to our native country naturally led us 
to discourse of home. Every tree was covered 
with a crispish frost, and, as the sun rose, the earth 
b^an to steam like a vast boiler. We went to the 
Ras's tent, and found him lying and talking to 
the slaves, rolled up in three cloths and a bumtise, 
with a large fire before him, and his head covered 
up. After bidding him good morrow, we were 
ordered to sit down, and he began asking us how 
cold it was in our own country, but never got from 
under his cloths. When we told him that the 
H 2 


water there froze so hard that we could drive 
cattle over the riverB^ he seemed scarcdy to 
believe us, and said, in a low tone^ from under his 
thick covering, '^ I had rather you should live 
there than I/' We sat, telling him stories of 
other parts of the world ; but I could not produce 
any one interesting enough to induce him to put 
his head from under cover; until, about two 
hours after the sun was up, he took a short peep 
and said, " Kill the cow ; we must eat before we 
go. to work.'' The cow was accordingly dis- 
patched, and he got up and buckled on his knife, 
and, after eating some brindo without bread, and 
drinking a horn or two of maize, he called all the 
chiefs in turn-, and, knowing the strength of their 
respective districts, tasked them as he thought 
proper ; ordering every one to fell so many trees, 
take the bark off, and bring them before his tent 
by sunset. I, having the command of his own 
household, was directed with my party to fell the 
bng young firs, not larger than my arm, for 
roofing under the thatch, and, with little difficulty, 
we cut more than a thousand the first day. 

From this place the view to the eastward, when 
clear of the woods, appears like a bluish misty sea, 
and forms the most dismal prospect I ever beheld ; 
for, let the day be ever so clear, you can see 
nothing at this time of the year but vast masses 


of clouds below you ; though it may possibly be 
different at other seasons. To the westward are 
seen all the green valleys and plains throughout 
the country, and the mountains of Samen are dis- 
tinctly visible. The woods in this place are about 
four miles in width, extending east and west, and 
in length several days' journey nortii and south. 
The (iggerzeen, a large kind of deer, is very 
numerous here, and the warmth of our camp had 
enticed numbers to i^proach us, as they are not 
afraid of fire, like the generality of other wild 
animals. One morning, a fine large buck was 
found among the Ras's cows, and soon speared by 
the soldiers, who, according to custom, brought 
the hind-qu^urters to the Ras, by whom they 
were given to me. I sent the skin and the horns 
of this beautifully shaped creature, together with 
a sketch and the skins of some curious wild beasts, 
to Mr. Salt, in the year 1813. 

December 10th. We quitted our camp, and 
marched for Chelicut by the same road we came, 
and the first night reached Barkie, where we slept 
at the premises of Ito Dimsu, the Ras's nephew ; 
we were not more than fifty in number, every 
body else being ordered to carry, or assist in 
carrying, the timber to Conlfu, near Chelicut. 

The second day we arrived at Chelicut j where, 
at dinner time, the Ras observed to me, just as he 


had taken a draught of maize, ^^ One can take » 
good drink here, without making the teeth ache ; 
but at Dacer every mouthful gave one pain." 
The chiefs arrived with part of the timber, at tiie 
place enjoined^ in five days, though some of the 
heavy trees did not arrive till ten days afterwards^ 
every thing being done by main strength alone, 
without the smallest assistance from any me- 
chanical contrivance* 

December 25th. Palambarus Guebra Selass^ 
arrived from the king Teda Gorgis. The mesv 
sage he brought was to intreat the Ras, now the 
king's son-in-law, to march by way of Walkayt 
to Gondar, and once more place Teclar Gorgis 
upon the throne. Asgas Sedit also arrived with 
a message to the same effect ; but the Ras would 
not agree to these measures, unless the king 
would first quiet Waldubba and come to Axum, 
where he promised to wait upon him and make 
such anrangements as they might think fit upon 
the subject. Messengers had been privately sent 
backward and forward for some months before 
upon this business, but the Ras was unwilling to 
trust Tecla, with whose character he was well 
acquainted. Christmas-day falling upon the 29th 
of December, in Aby&sinia, the Ras detained the 
different messengers to keep their feast with hitn, 
and then gave them leave to depart. 


January lOth^ 1814. News was brought by 
Palambarus Toclu's senrant^ whom the Ras had 
ordered to prepare at Axam for the reception of 
the king Tecla Gorgis, that he had crossed the 
Tacazz^^ and was expected daily at Axum. The 
Ras^ on receiving this intelligence, quitted Antido, 
where he had spent his Christmas, and returned to 
Chelicut ; but, instead of holding the Tumkut 
review of his troops, which takes place on the 
11th of January, he ordered them to be ready to 
ni^arch with all speed to meet the king at Axum. 

January 12th. Notwithstanding its being the 
holyday. Kudus Michael, we left Chelicut, and 
marched to Alarsa, where we were entertained by 
Shum Giralta Toclu ; next day we marched to 
Gullybudda, where we were provided for, in a 
large dassy made by the sons of Palambarus 
Toclu, but not so magnificently as by Shum 
Giralta Toclu, the quantity of whose bread, meat, 
and maize, almost exceeded credibility. When- 
ever the Ras is upon a march in his own dominions, 
every chief tries to outdo his neighbours in the 
quality of the cattle, bread, maize, and sawa, they 
prepare for him. Should the Ras be displeased 
with the manner of his reception, he either de- 
mands a fine from the chief, or displaces him 
altogether, and puts another in his stead ; though 
the last must be a relation of the former, who has 


a right by birth to become governor of the 

January 14th. We left GuUybudda and marched 
to the river Warie, where we were supplied by 
several petty chiefs, at the head of whom was 
Ito Assemmant. In this place we also found a 
large d(iss built, and a platform made of clay and 
stones, with clay for a table about fourteen yards 
long, first covered with wild mint and rushes, 
on which bread and cooked victuals were piled 
in abundance : five cows were ready killed, and 
ten more w^e presented to the Ras. Maize and 
sowa were also handed round in large quantities. 

On the 15th, we marched to Zonger, where we 
were provided for by the Gas Ischias, and the 
sons of the Cannasmash How from Abba Tzana. 
Here the abundance surpassed all that we had 
seen before, and my tent was so full of bread, 
meat, maize,' and sowaj though our people had 
continued feasting till midnight, that I and Mr. 
Coffin were obliged to sleep outside with our 
domestics. During the night a scorpion stung Mr. 
Coffin on the elbow ; it had come from a stone, 
upon which he had placed his head by way of 
pillow. One of our people immediately cut the 
wounded part with a razor, to let the blood out, 
but still it gave him great pain for more than an 
hour after. 


On the 16th, we marched to Moi Agenzean, 
where we were entertained by the eons of the 
Nebrid Alfiers and Aram. Nebrid Aram killed 
Nebrid Alfiers in 180/^ and from that time the 
parties have been at enmity, though always kept 
quiet by the power of the Ras, who had forced 
them to be reconciled. The dass here was built 
by the above parties, each occupying one side ; 
being both determined either to outdo one ano- 
ther or lose the last scrap in their possession. 
One «ide of the platform, which they had built for 
a table, having become one pile of loaves higher 
than the other, the opposite party immediately 
brought their own side to a level with it j while 
the girls, who brought in the cooked victuals, in 
the same manner, entered the dass in distinct 
parties. The Ras viewed this for some time 
smilingly, and at last told them that there was 
abundance, and more than would be that day con- 
sumed ; adding that he was equally satisfied with 
both parties, which at once settled the business,, 
and the plentiful feast began. It is always, by 
the by, a lucky chance both for officers and 
soldiers, when encamped in a district where there 
are parties in opposition. 

On the 17th, very early in the morning, the 
Ras called me, to say that he meant to enter 
Axum on his favourite Bulla ; not from any re- 


spect to the king, but in honour of the Blessed 
. Virgin, to whom the church at Axum is dedicated. 
He also desired nie and Mr. CofiBin to have 
plenty of powder, with our arms, and to ride close 
to him, one on each side ; orders were then given 
for every horseman to have his horse saddled, it 
being a common custom in Abyssinia, with the 
lower sort of wotada [soldiers] to . have one 
saddle only, which serves both for mule and horse, 
the latter being never mounted, except in battle or 
on private occasions. In the provinces east of the 
Tacazz^ no one rides horses on a march, as they 
are led before the owner while he journeys on his 
mule ; but in Gojam and Edjow they frequently 
travel on horseback when marching with the 

We broke up our encampment, and march- 
ed towards Axum, over the extensive plain 
Attsowa. As soon as we came within sight of. the 
town, the Ras got off his mule and mounted Bulla, 
every chief and horseman following his example. 
The chiefs were directed to keep their horses 
about six yards in the rear, where they formed 
one close body, while the old gentleman made me 
ride on his right, with our thighs nearly touching^ 
and Mr. Coffin on his left ; on firing our large 
blunderbusses, well loaded, the horses began to 
get warm, which greatly pleased the old man.. 


Having at his desire loaded and fired both our 
blunderbusses and pistols several times^ great 
confusion was created among the chiefs in our rear^ 
who were in a body consisting of one hundred and 
fifty^ about six yards behind us^ followed by six 
hundred wotada, whose spirited horses, not 
being used to fire-arms^ became ungovernable. 
The horse of Ito Nockindis, a relation of the 
Ras^ taking fright and plunging violently^ fell 
down^ broke its saddle, and hurt the young chief 
so much that he was obliged to be carried home 
to his country ; but the Ras, still in high glee 
and never thinking of his relation, now and then 
said to me, in a low tone, ^^ Put in plenty o^ 
powder : put in three or four cartridges \ your 
arms are strong enough to hold a mudfar" Our 
horses pranced, as they galloped towards the 
king's tent, or dasSy in the wildest manner, which 
quite delighted the old Ras, who rides better 
than any young man in his country, though age 
will not now permit him to indulge often in an 
exercise for which he had been remarkable in his 
younger days. 

The king Tecla Gorgis had his tent pitched 
within the large dass, that had been erected for 
his reception, on the south side of the church- wall, 
which fronts the whole plain. He had ordered 
the front of his tent and dass to be left open, in 


ord^r that he might have a clear view of the Ras 
and his troops^ and we were afterwards informed 
he was so much delighted on seeing me and Mr. 
Coffin in regimentals^ firing while the horses 
were plunging furiously^ that he stood up on his 
sofa to have a better view of us, e!xclaiming 
MarlikteingCy Sonshivelenij [They are angels, 
not mortals] . The moment we approached the 
entrance of the dcLSSj which was crowded by mul- 
titudes of people, on each side, we sprang from 
our horses, the Ras very nimbly throwing his 
cloth round his waist, in order that his breast 
might be bare. On entering, he placed his hand 
upon mine, and I went into the dass with him, but 
as we approached the king, who was seated upon 
sofa in his tent, with a munderger [grate of fire] 
before him, and his attendants neatly dressed, and 
standing in their respective stations, the Ras let 
go my hand, and bowed with his forehead to the 
ground, remaining in that position about half a 
minute, when he rose and approached the king, 
taking a half- wheel round the inside of the dasSy 
where, after standing about a minute, it was inti- 
mated to him to sit down, by a nod from the king, 
who, until he was seated, did not . speak a word. 
The Ras made another low bow, and sat down 
upon a carpet spread for his reception. The 
king first broke silence by asking the Ras how he 


did^ and where he had got another gipsy^ meanmg 
Mr. Coffin^ as he knew me before. Mr. Coffin 
had not yet entered the dassy but the king desired 
that he should be admitted; when the Ras in- 
formed him of the whole of Mr. Salt's mission^ and 
of the presents he had brought for Itsa Guarlu. 
While the story was relating^ the king said^ '^Stop^ 
1 must have the whole from Pearce^'' adding, 
"I know the Feringees are not dandies" [silly- 
people] '^ but very cunning fellows." Gusho, a 
Balermal, who stood upon his right hand, on 
reeeiving a sign from the king, came and whisper- 
ed in my ear that I and Mr. Coffin should sit 
down. We remained seated some time before any 
of the chiefs were allowed admittance ; but, at 
last^ upon a whisper from the king to the Balermal 
Comfu, who stood upon his left hand, he went to 
the entrance of the dass, and ordered the Gusmati 
Ischias, Fit-aurari Guebra Amlac, Palambarus 
Wonderfrash, and Aszas Guebra Selass^, to 
advance and sit down. They obeyed the order 
with alacrity, made their bows, and seated them- 
selves upon a carpet below that of the Ras, while 
perfect silence prevailed during a few moments, 
till the king began to make remarks on the Ras's 
horsemanship, the activity of his horsemen in 
general, and their discipline, as he termed what a 
European i;rould have called madness. 


The^king paid the Ras many compliments^ and 
among other thin^ said^ '^ Welled Selassd^ you 
ride as well and as lights and appear as young as 
you did in the time of Ras Michael. How 
came you by that beautiful Bulla horse V The 
Ras replied^ '^ I had him given me by the Gus- 
marsh Zonde, about four years ago, when it was 
very young.'* '^ What have you done with your 
old favourite Shummetf" said the king. T^e 
Ras replied, ^^ I have given him to Toclu, having 
now grown old.'* — " What, does not Toclu want a 
young horse f" replied the king. Palambarus 
Toclu, who stood at a distance, with the other 
chiefs, who were waiting upon the Ras, began to 
smile, knowing what would follow. ^^ I think an 
old horse suits him b^st," said the Ras. " Why?" 
said the king, ^^ has he got the curtermart [rheui- 
matism]f " No, Ganvar*," said the Ras, " he has 
not got the curtermart, but a young horse is apt 
to give it him:" on which a laugh was set up 
throughout the whole dass. Palambarus Toclu, 
though somewhat displeased, affected to laugh 
also ; he not only being noted for a bad horseman, 
but as ranking nearly first among the cowards of 
Abyssinia ; though, in spite of these great defects . 
in a soldier or chief, he commanded the largest 

* Thje title of the king. 


district in the Ras's dominions. Indeed, it is the 
policy of the Abyssinian rulers, to prefer their 
cowardly chiefs before others, being less fearful 
of their rebelling. After all, Palambarus declared 
himself much gratified by the Ras giving him 
Shummet ; that horse he valued more than any 
in hitt possession, the Ras having never permitted 
any one but himself to ride him, till he presented 
him to Mr. Salt, to carry him from Chelicut to 
Antak), in 1810, which was regarded by every 
body at the time as a most unusual mark of fa- 
Tour. The joke being ended, the company was 
dismissed, except the Ras, who had a short pri- 
vate conversation before he left the king. 

^J'he Ras then visited the church, where, in the 
front of the great gates, the priest had assembled. 
All the carpets belonging to the. church were 
spread, out, and the priests, dressed in their holy 
and richest robes and crowns, were singing a 
hymn, throwing themselves into the wildest pos- 
tures, as is customary on such occasions. This 
hymn, at the close of every verse, ended with 
JFelled le Selass^ TFoldi Kejla Yasomha hile hu 
yer Yasous Chrutosku — [Son of the Trinity, son 
of Jesus's follower, his strength is in Christ 
Jesus.] As the Ras approached, he threw the 
cloth from his shoulders, and made a bow, the 
head-priest calling out to him, ^^ Dress, dress, by . 


the Virgin^ dress V when the Ras resuming his 
cloth^ the head-priests presented him a cross to 
kiss. After standing a few minutes^ the Ras, in^ 
dining his head towards the ground, desired a 
Uessing, which the high-priest gave ; the Lord's 
prayer being repeated by the assembled crowd* . 
The Ras next proceeded to pay a visit to 
Ozoro Dinkernagh, who arrived with the king from 
Waldubba. She is the daughter of the former 
Ras Ilo of, Gojam, and Mdfe to the Gusmarsh 
Christy Zonde, the late governor of Gojam ; who, 
being overpowered by Guxo in a hard fought 
battle, in the plain of Dembea, made his escape 
round the lake Tzana to Agow Mudda ; but, in 
making another attempt to recover his country, 
he was deceived by the troops he employed, taken 
prisoner, and kept in chains in the Island of Car,- 
retta WoUetta in the lake, where it was supposed 
he and another chief, the Cannasmash Woldic, 
were poisoned by Guxo's orders. Dinkernagh,. 
though a handsome young woman, was so grieved 
at the loss of her husband that she turned nun, 
and went to the sacred wilderness of Waldubba, 
and had now come to the Ras, to prevail on him 
to use all means in his power to get her sent to 
Jerusalem. The Ras promised to do all he could 
to assist her in her undertaking. We then re- 
turned to our camp, where we found a large dtiss 


erected by Palambarus Todu, and the sons of 
Nebrid Alfiers^ where we were as usual plentifully 

When the festival was over^ I and Mr. Coffin 
went to our tent, where we found Palambarus 
TocIu'b servant, with a cow, a sheep, two thou- 
sand cakes of bread, and a large jar of maize, 
which had been carried to our tent by four men, 
upon a pole. Ozoro Duster, an old acquaintance of 
mine, had also sent me some cooked victuals, 
some maize, and a milch cow with her calf, de- 
siring me to pay her a visit in the evening, with 
which request I was obliged to comply, though 
very much fatigued. I and Mr. Coffin wished to 
take a little rest previously, but it could not be 
done f our soldiers must have the cow killed, and 
by the time they had done eating and drinking, 
it was past ten at night. I had then to go to 
Ozoro Duster's, where I was crammed with 
another supper. When eating with a lady of 
this country, you have not the least occasion to 
use your own hands, except to wipe your mouth 
with a piece of bread, for they cram the victuals 
into your mouth so fast and in such large lumps, 
though perfectly minced, as to render it ex- 
tremely difficult to swallow, until a person be- 
comes used to it. At cock-crow I returned to 
my tent, where I slept soundly till after sun-rise. 


I was afterwards called to dine with the Ras a9 
usual, and fouad there a multitude of the Tigc4 
people in great confusion, striving to settle how 
the Ras should be maintained by them. It was 
at length determined, that every chief shoiild pro- 
vide for his table in turn until his departure; 
those nearest had to provide for the first days^ 
while those who had to bring provisions two or 
three day's journey next furnished the supply> 
and so on in rotation. It is surprising to see 
how safely they carry the large jars of maize 
over the mountains from Gundufta, &c. to Axum« 
It took them two days to bring the Gusmati 
Ischias's maize and sowa, and not one jar was 
broken upon the road. 

The Ras remained at this place, paying visits 
every other day to the king, when they always 
had about an hour's private conversation together. 
We had here very heavy dews in the night, which 
caused colds throughout our camp ; and the pool 
of standing water at Axum became so very 
muddy, through the number of cattle, that it 
caused many horses and mules to die daily. 
There is no river within two miles of Axum, but 
the inhabitants have good well-water ; there are 
many wells hidden, and even in the plain num- 
bers have been found, but the people are too lazy 
to clear them from rubbish. It appears probable 


I tiiat^ in ancient times^ almost every house had its 
well^ as 1 have been at the clearing of four, 
dtuated not more than ten yards from ^ach 
other. The stone of which they are constructed 
is the same kind of granite of which the obelisks 
are formed. I was told by Apostella, an old 
.Greeks >irho had bought a piece of ground from 
the priests^ as close to the church as any of the 
buldings are allowed to be, that, in clearing the 
rubbish out of a well which he had discovered, he 
found some gold coins, which be shewed me ; and 
indeed^ two of the same kind came into my pos- 
session several months afterwards, but, unfortu- 
nately, having forwarded them to Mr. Salt, they 
were lost on the road. One of them had a bald 
man's head upon one side, and apparently arms 
upon the reverse. The second had a woman's 
head, with a forked crown on it, and something 
imitating a balance or scales ; the characters 
were Greek. The coin was as thick in the mid- 
dle as an English half-crown, though not thicker 
than a shilling round the edges, and in circum- 
ference about the size of an English guinea. 
None of the wells are less than forty feet deep, 
some of them much more. This Greek had for- 
merly resided in Gondar and Adowa, but growing 
old, he had come to settle in this secure place 
during the remainder of bis life ; he is a silver- 


smithy and most of the ornaments of the principal 
churches are his workmanship. 

In the event of rebellion or civil war, Axum is 
never disturbed by Christians, and those who 
commit murder or the worst of crimes are safe 
from justice when once within the giddam, or 
sacred premises. There are many other giddams 
in Abyssinia that are equally respected, and, in^ 
deed, wherever the Abunas have resided and ad- 
ministered the holy sacrament, such places are 
venerated as giddams alike by royalists and 
rebels. The number of priests and deacons al-' 
lowed a share in the land, or the rights of the 
giddam, will be seen in another place. 
.. The Ras was still waiting for the arrival of 
Fit-aurari Suddal, brother to Woldi Comfu of 
Walkayt, and, I, finding myself rather unwell, 
obtained permission of the Ras to go to Adowa 
for a few days. 

February Ist. 1 went to Adowa, where I stop- 
ped until the holyday Kudus Michael, which is 
the 12th ; and after settling with my landlady, 
with whom I lodged, I returned by the Ras'tf 
orders to Axum. In Abyssinia, it is customary 
for every person whomsoever, in any kind of office 
under the head of a province, or a visiter from 
any friendly or hostile province, coming or going 
upon business to the head of that province, or 


any one travelling under protection of the latter^ 
to have lodgings and conveniencea found gratis 
in all towns for himself and servants, but they 
must find their own provisions ; and it is also a 
general custom, when a lodger kills a cow, sheep, 
or goat, to give the skin to the owner of the 
house, with a piece of meat, and frequently to ask 
him to nieals> though this depends upon the 
good-nature of the lodger. Many of these petty 
chiefs, when they accompany their Ras or gover- 
nor to a town, where they have no house of their 
own, nearly ruin the inhabitants, by burning the 
doors of their houses, tables, cattle-pens, &c. for 
fire- wood, drinking their maize or «oti*a, or killing 
their sheep. On these occasions, no one complaind' 
to the governor, for fear of having bis premises 
burned altogether, and himself chained and 
brought into some unjust law-suit, which would 
inevitably drain him of his last farthing. 

In all towns, there is a person appointed by the 
rulers of the place, to find out and conduct all 
strangers to lodgings, called kordarey and he who 
holds this (^ce is provided for by the house- 
keepers of the town, who give him one piece of 
salt per year ; on all holydays, also, he calls upon 
them for drink, and a piece of meat for his family, 
a sheepskin, &c. To those who most oblige him 
he seldom, if he can possibly help it, sends lodgers ; 


while those who displease him are sure^ on the 
arrival of any chief, to have soldiers of the worst 
principles quartered in their habitations. 

February 14. 1 arrived at Axum; where, finding 
the Ras had just gone to the king, I and Mr. 
Coffin went also to the king's doss. We im- 
mediately obtuned admittance, and were ordered 
to sit down on the same spot as in our first audi- 
ence. The king then began to ask me several 
questions ; enquiring, what could be the motive of 
the king of our country for sending presents to 
Itsa Guarlu, whom he had never seen in his life, 
and exclaiming Feringee tunealiner, [Euro- 
peans are cunning ones]. I replied, "Chirking 
is great and charitable to all poor Christians." 
" Great !'' said the king, *^ is he so powerful as 
Welled Selass^ V At which the old Ras laughed, 
and said, " He tells me that all Ethiopia is 
nothing to compare to him, and that I am not so 
powerful as one of his Allicars;*' meaning a 
governor or commander. ^^ If so,*' said the king, 
" why does he not put an end to all followers of 
Mahomet r' " Ganvar*," I replied, "the Eng- 
lish never compel people to religion by force, but 
by pointing out to them the true religion, fipom 
the Holy Scriptures ; persons thus converted can 

* Ganvar and Itsa are titles of the king. 


[ be depended upon^ while those who are forced 
#ould only watch an opportunity of revenging 
themselves on their oppressors/' *' Very true,'' 
rejoined be^ '' bat it would be a good thing to 
giye them a sound beating, and knock their 
towns down, or bum them, to let them see that 
the followers of Christ are more powerful under 
Amlac Hill, [the Supreme Being] than the fol- 
towers of Mahomet are." After discoursing ibr 
some time upon the manners of the nobility, and 
the discipline of my countrymen, subjects to the 
king, &c. &c., he appeared greatly astonished at 
the answers I gave him, though he seemed to 
attach but little credit to what I said. 

As it was late in the afternoon, I went to piy 
own tent, after accompanying the Has to his dassj 
where he immediately began to play at chess, 
which forms his chief amusement throughout the 
year, Sundays and holydays not excepted, save 
dviring the fifteen days' fast for the Blessed Virgin, 
in August ; when he never plays either at chess 
or gibbertay his two favourite games. 

February 16th. The holyday, Ke.dan-er- 
merrit. The head priest persuaded the Ras to 
occupy the very large house of the late Nebrid 
Aram, then in possession of my friend, Ozoro 
Duster, daughter of Nebrid Aram, and niece to 
the Ras. To this the Ras consented, and Ozoro 


Duster occupied the house of Ozoro Wolleta 
Alassa^ her mother^ and the sister of the Ras, 
built within the [Same walls. I entered the hall^ 
with the Ras leaning upon my arm, where the 
Ozoro had prepared an entertainment for him ; 
the table was abundantly furnished, and, on the 
entrance of the Ras^ she rose from the couch she 
had been sitting on, covered with fine carpets 
and pillows, which she had previously got ready 
for his reception. As I sat close by Ozoro at 
dinner, I had no occasion to put my hand to the 
table to feed myself, for she was kind enough ixy 
spare me that trouble ; and, after the hall was 
cleared, she begged of the Ras to let her give me 
lodgings within the walls. Saying, ^^ He is very 
ill, and he will be better in my house, where I 
can give him what he wants: these cold nights^ 
I am sure, must hurt any body that has been so 
ill as he has of late.'' The Ras, knowing our 
intimacy for more than two or three years, told 
me to bring my clothes and two servants, and to 
let the horses, mules, &c., be provided for in the 
camp. . Ozoro Duster made a very low bow to 
the Ras, to convince me how much she was 
pleased with such an opportunity of shewing me 
her constancy. She was formerly the wife of 
Subegadis, whom' the Ras had given to her as a 
husband, when he entered into an alliance with that 


chief; but, the littter rebelling about three years 
after their marriage, the old gentleman sent a great 
force^ and, by a sudden attack on the premises, 
during the absence of her husband, brought 
her to Ant&lo, where I first became acquainted 
with her. 

Notwithstanding the rebellious life of her hus* 
band^ she always loved him very much ; the Ras 
often persuaded her to take another husband, whom 
he would pick out for her, but I have heard her 
myself declare to him that she would never marry 
while Abba Garre, meaning Subegadis, was alive; 
whose vaunted name was taken from the first 
horse he rode to war in his youth, called Abba 
Garre Barra. 

In the evening, while sitting with Ozoro, she 
told me a number of silly tales about Axum, 
among others a long story about the large snake 
that ruled the country. At the time this snake 
was king of Ethiopia, she said, all persons were 
their own masters, and used of their own free 
will to carry their tribute to the snake, which 
sometimes resided at Temben, though Axum was 
the favourite residence of the two. She likewise 
told me that the learned priests say, that this 
king-snake is still alive, but that, being angry 
with the people on accoimt of their sins, he con- 
fines himself to the hollow mountain close to 

VOL. I. I 


Axum. She also promised to show me the 
troughs out of which the snakes used to eat and 
drink ; a kindness I thanked her for, though I 
could not altogether keep from laughing. 

In the mornings however, she begged of Ito 
Guebra Middin^ her younger brother, to. take me 
to this sacred place, and accordingly we went to 
tiie camp, saddled our mules, and set off. In' 
about half an hour after, ascending the hill, by 
the pool, we passed Calun Negus, a little to our 
right, and in a quarter of an hour came ta the. 
spot, where Guebra Middin began to point out to 
me what he considered as very wonderful things. 
In this place stands a large flat rock of granite^ 
as level upon the top as a platform, and at the end 
of this there is another rock, intermixed with red 
earth and gravel, with a deep ravine in the centre^ 
apparently occasioned by the rains, which fall in a 
stream from a great height above the platform* 
In the middle of this granite rock are three large 
round troughs, neatly cut, about three feet deep, 
and about three and a half in diameter, which 
I suppose to have been made by the ancients to 
prepare some kind of cement in for building: but 
Guebra Middin gave me a veiy different story, 
which r affected to believe, for fear of creating a 
quarrel between me and Ozoro, his sister. He 
informed me that one of those troughs held the 


milk^ another sherro and bread JU/itf or cooked 
victuals and bread maehed up together, while 
the third was the one from which the snake used 
to eat cusho every two months, cusho being the 
floor used to kill the tape-worm, without taking 
which every two months the Abyssinians could 
not live, though they have other medicines, made 
from bark of trees and bulbs, but none so effective 
as cttsho in Amhara, or hobbe in Tigr^. 

On returning to Ozoro Duster, I pretended to 
believe all I had seen and heard of the king-snake, 
as I knew it would be folly to argue with such 
superstitious people. What made the joke better 
was, that when we were talking on the same 
subject at the Ras's, there happened to be an 
old man, a servant to the head Negade of the 
Ras's at Adowa, who had come with some money 
to the Ras, and, on his hearing the story, he told 
the Ras, that when he was a boy, and had not 
been long bought by his master, Buggerund Yanne, 
a Feringee came to his master's house, of the 
name of Yagoube, and his master told.Yagoube 
about this snake being still alive, and living in 
the rocks near Axum, and that it used to come 
out of its den in the night ; upon which Yagoube 
swore he would shoot him, if Yanne would give 
him a guide. The lad was accordingly sent 
with some other boys, the former carrying 


Yagoube's double-barrel gun and plenty of pow- 
der and shot. When they came to the spot, they 
watched until they all went to sleep except the 
servant lad, when two large gibsy hyenas, came 
grunting and fighting together; the lad cried out^ 
'* Sidi Yagoube ! sidi Yagoube!" The rest, being 
suddenly awakened, and hearing the growling of 
the hyenas, thought that the noise they heard was 
the snake devouring Yagoube j so they set oflF, 
and never stopped until they got within the 
church-yard of Axum, leaving him and Yagoube's 
only servant to search for him, but they saw no 
snake. After what had happened, Yagoube was 
ashamed to go into Axum, as the priests had 
heard that he was killed by the snake, and they 
would have been angry with him for pretending 
to do as he wished. The party therefore returned 
to Adowa, and Yagoube obtained leave to take the 
boy with him to Gondar, and to the Essneer 
Abby Suhkulla, where he remained Mdth him 
until he went to Sennaar. The boy and some 
others went with the Feringee as far as Ras-el- 
feel, and as he gave them good wages they wished 
to have gone with him, but he would not take 
them. The old man who told this story was 
named Sasenas, formerly a Galla Slave to Bug- 
genmd Yanne, a Greek, Ras Michael's trea- 


February 21st. Fit-aurari Suddal arrived from 
Walkayt^ and was received by the Ras in a 
manner suitable to his rank. At supper-time, 
before we had begun to eat, Asgas Sedit came 
from the king, desiring the Ras and Suddal to 
attend at the church that moment, for, as it was 
the holyday dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, 
it would render all the agreements they entered 
into more sacred, and, the king having warned the 
priests of the proposed visit, the party found the 
church illuminated on its arrival. The king, the 
Ras, Suddal, Asgas Se^t, and the high-priest, 
were left by themselves seated in the middle of 
the church, where they discoursed for nearly 
three hours,' taking oaths before the chief-priest, 
who ordered them to appear next morning to take 
the capital oath, as that ought not to be done in 

We returned about midnight, when all went to 
their respective lodgings, except Suddal, who 
came back with the Ras to supper, after which, 
before the Ras could go to sleep, Ito Russo came 
and insisted upon having some private conver- 
sation. He, being Ae chief with whom the Ras 
consulted on all private occasions, was admitted, 
and every body ordered out but myself, as I had 
for more than three years past been allowed the 
privilege of remaining with the Ras, during the 


most secret discourses^ either respecting his allies 
or his own affairs. Ito Russo began by repri- 
manding the Ras for his misconduct, telling him^ 
that he would ruin himself and country by being 
connected with Tecla Gorgis. " You know/' said 
he, ^' the oaths he takes are like a drink of water 
to him, and how many persons has he ensnared 
and destroyed by his total disregard of every 
species of obligation I" But the only reply the old 
gentleman could make was, ^^ It's done now ; we 
must cross the Tacazz^ and look well after him in 
future." Ito Russo, on going out from the Ras^ 
said several times over, ^^ God give you wisdom^ 
master!" after w^hich the Ras lay down to 

February 22nd. The king, the Ras, and those 
mentioned the night before, met at the churchr 
gate, where numbers of chiefs and priests were 
present. The priests of the gidcUun were all 
dressed in their holy apparel, and as the sun got 
warm, being about ten o'clock, the priests were 
standing in a row before the church-door, upon 
the steps, when the crying cross was brought out 
and uncovered. The king first ascended the 
steps and kissed it ; the Ras followed his exam- 
ple, Suddal next, and then all the rest concerned 
in the oath followed iheir example. This cross, 
called the Crying Cross of Axum, is believed by 


the weak-minded people 'to cry whenever it is 
used upon these and similar occasions* Many 
people coming from a great distance pay a large 
sum to be allowed to kiss it, imagining that their 
sins are thereby washed away. Indeed, there is 
so mudi anxiety to see this cross, that even those 
for off will call out to the priests, " For God's 
sake hold it up higher that we may see it!'' I 
suspect that those crafty wretches anoint this 
erosB with some thick oily substance, which, 
when held in the sun, melts and shines like 
drops of water, but, no one being allowed to 
touch it except a priest or a monk, it is impossible 
that the cheat can be discovered*. 

In the year 180/, I was upon a visit with the 
Ras, on our miarch from Adowa to the sacred 
excavated church, Jummuddo Mariam, where there 
is a picture of the Virgin Mary suckling her child, 
probably painted in the time of the Portugueze, 
as the workmanship differs from that of the pre- 
sent Abyssinian artists. This picture is placed in 
a window, behind which is a dark place, and the 
priests told the Ras and the chiefs with him, that 
when any sinful persons were looking at it, it 
trembled violently. As I saw it myself at the 
time shake terribly, I looked about to see if I 
could discover any place of entrance, to get at the 
back of it, and soon observed a monk crawling out 


of a very small opening in an obscure place; so^ 
when I imagined no one took notice, I crawled in> 
and, after turning round one dark corner^ observed 
a priest behind the picture, shaking it every now 
and then with apiece of string. I dared not to in- 
terrupt him, but being satisfied went out again. 
I did not forget to tell the Ras of this afterwards. 
He said that he believed it, " but it will not do," 
said he, '^ to quarrel with these rascals, for if I 
were to set them against me, I should not long be 

The oath having been taken before the whole 
population, the drum was beat, to be ready to 
march in two days time. 


Pearce is obliged by ill health to leave the Ras and return to 
Adowa — ^He is joined by his wife — Recovers and sets out for 
Enderta — ^His reception by a Village Chief— Asgas Qiggar— 
Pearce's party refused accommodation by a Fanner — Custom 
of Soldiers to quarter themselves on Farmers — ^Mountain of 
Awaro— Arrival at Chelicut — Sudden death of two Servants, 
attributed to ghosts or devils — Illness and death of Pearce*s 
son — Qlfts — ^Funeral Ceremonies — Rapacity of the Priests — 
Death of Ito Debbib> the Ras*s brother — Cry held for him — 

As I was at this time very ill and apparently 
getting worse^ the Ras persuaded me to return to 
Adowa with Blitingatore Woldi Gorgis^ the gover- 
nor of the town, but, notwithstanding my ill fate, I 
be^ed he would take me with him, even if he was 
obliged to havejne carried upon a littery and said if 
I died he would know the end of me, to which 
the old gentleman would have consented, had not 
Ito Russo and several of the chiefs persuaded him 
and me, that it would be the greatest folly to be 
the means of my own death. It being at length 
agreed that I should go to Adowa, the Ras sent 
for Blitingatore Woldi Gorgis, and ordered him 
in my presence to give me every thing that I 
might stand in need of, and said loudly in the 
hearing of numbers, " If you do not look to him 
I 5 


as you would to me, I shall be very sorry/' On 
taking leave of him^ he said, " Trust in God, and 
keep up your heart, and I shall find you well on 
my return." 

I left the camp, and the Ras and his army 
marched the same day: sometimes my people 
carried me upon a couch, when the road was 
very bad, but, when good, I rode my mule. 

We arrived at Adowa, late in the evenings the 
governor, who had arrived in the forenoon, had 
procured lodgings for me against my arrival, as 
also for my people, mules, and horses. I had 
every thing that I could wish for, and inune- 
diately sent for my wife Tringo, from Enderta. 
She arrived in six days, and with her medical aid 
and some simples, the use of which she had 
learned from old women, I soon began to find 
myself better ; and in the course of a few days, I 
could go about. Blitingatore came several times 
to see me, and indeed did not neglect in the least 
the Ras's orders. 

Being quite recovered, I begged to take leave 
of him for Enderta, but he for some time wished 
me to remain until the Ras should return, the 
road to Enderta being very unsafe, as Asgas 
Giggar had quitted the camp and returned to his 
district without the Ras's approbation, and it 
was supposed that he intended to join Subegadis, 

CAMP. 179 

though, until now, he had not quitted his own 
district. Ito Musgrore of Basanate, and the 
whole of Arramat, had been lefk to look after the 
movements of Subegadis, who, though, as usual, 
he had denied the dominion of the Ras, remained 
quiet in his own province of Agarn^, while his 
brother Guebra Guro was with the Ras and in 
great favour. However, I persisted in my in* 
tention, and the governor gave me leave to de- 
part, after passing our feast, Fassegar Awasum, 
Ascension Sunday, which concluded the great 

We left Adowa, after taking leave of Blitinga- 
tore Woldi Gorgis ; and, in the evening, as is 
customary for all people high or low, I formed a 
small camp opposite to the house of the chief of 
the village. There were a great number of 
people with me, besides my own fifty shields-men 
and fourteen muskets ; there were also twenty- 
two of the Ras's soldiers, who had been left 
behind ill, and nearly two himdred women, who, 
wishing to be in Enderta by the arrival of the 
Ras, and hearing the road was unsafe, had taken 
the opportunity of coming with me. We had not 
been seated long before the chief of the village 
came out, dressed in black, being, as I afterwards 
learned, in mourning for his wife, whom he had 
buried a few days before. Upon hearing this. 

180 TASSU. 

the whole of our troops formed themselves into a 
circle, the women on one side and the men upon 
the other, and kept about ten minutes' cry ^ after 
which I was ordered into a large doss, my feet 
were washed, and, although the old man seated 
himself upon the ground, he insisted that I should 
sit upon his sofa. My host was named Yassu ; 
he was formerly Fit-aurari to Ras Michael, and a 
near relation of Ras Welled Selass^. I had been 
acquainted with him for several years; he was 
always a very jocular old boy, and now, notwith- 
standing the late death of his wife, with whom he 
had lived more than fifty years, he began his usual 
jokes, and, seeing my wife seated by my side^ he 
said, ^^ Ah ! I lost as good a wife the other day 
as ever your Tringo was ; she would sit from 
morning to evening without ever getting up, 
during which we would drink out two large jars 
of maize; and then, what nice victuals she used 
to cook !" 

In the morning, when I wanted to start, he in- 
sisted upon my taking the road of Giralta, saying, 
that Ito Debbib, the Ras's brother, being very ill, 
his son Ito Dimsu had returned from camp^ and, 
although he had more than a thousand men with 
him, he was obliged to take the road round by 
Mugga in Giralta, for fear of Asgas Giggar. I 
swore that I would not alter my route^ and that 


if Asgas intended to Btop the public road in 
defiance of the Ras^ he might begin with me. I 
accordingly set out^ and, about two o'clock in the 
afternoon, we came to the district of Asgas Giggar* 
We halted by the river Warn, whence we could 
see Asgas^ sitting upon the wall that was in front 
of his house^ upon the mountain above us. I 
sent two boys to him, with two horns, ordering 
them to give my compUments, and beg that he 
would have the goodness to fill the horns with 
maize } and, in about an hour and a half, they re- 
turned with them filled, and one of Asgas's 
men^ with two fine goats and two sheep. He told 
me that his master greatly wished me to pass the 
remainder of the day and night at his houses ^^but 
you know,'^ said he, ^^ the country people would 
raise some false report against you, if you were 
to enter my master's house," adding, ^^ Ito Dimsu 
was afraid to pass, and went by the roundabout 
way, but my master may be offended with the 
Ras, his uncle, without turning rebel." After 
thanking his master for the sheep, goats, and 
maize, we again set out and travelled very cheer* 

The women and several of the men had been 
greatly frightened before we passed Asgas Giggar's 
district, but now began singing, *^ To Pearce the 
same luck as our Maker has given to the Ras !" 


This song lasted until we 'reached Gullybudda 
nearly at dark. The governor of the town having 
gone to the camp^ I could get no good lodgings ; 
so I sent to one of the Ras's arristies, or farmers^ 
a very rich man who denied himselfi and sent his 
daughter to tell my servant that her father had 
gone to Antfdo that very day, and would not re* 
turn for a week. This I knew by experience to 
be the customary scheme, so I sent word back to 
the woman, that, as her father had gone to Antklo, 
she must get the house ready for my accommo- 
dation, and that I would take care of it imtil he 
returned, as I could not think of leavii^ the Ras^s 
cattle exposed to the danger of being taken by 
Asgas Giggar, who, she knew, had refused to 
follow the Ras to war, and deserted from the 
camp. I likewise sent her orders to get my 
supper ready directly. My servant soon came 
back running, and the old farmer, his son-in-law, 
and several ploughmen, advancing slowly; as they 
approached they threw their cloths from their 
shoulders, and fastened them round their waists. 
I ordered my people to tell them not to come near 
me empty-handed ; however, they bowed to the 
ground, and put stones upon their necks, upon 
which I could not help allowing them to advance^ 
though much to the discontent of my soldiers, who 
wanted me to make a market of the old rascal, by 


insisting upon having ten cows for denying him- 
self. This I had authority enough to do in this 
part of the Ras's dominions; but^ being rather 
more humane than the Abyssinians generally are 
on such occasions, I refused to follow their advice. 
So, when the old man came up, he first began 
cursing his daughter, saying she had made a mis- 
take, but had not wilfully denied him. I told him 
that I could not overlook the affair altogether, 
but that he must make some amends for his fault : 
he then offered two fat goats, besides supper for 
all the soldiers who were with me. This was re- 
fused, and, after some hesitation, he brought a 
cow with the goats, which also I ^refused, as she 
was not fat enough. At last he brought us a fat 
one, which I received, and, after promising not to 
acquaint the Ras with his denying himself to me, 
we got our supperi^, with plenty of sowa to drink, 
but I kept the cow and goats for the next day. 

In Abyssinia it is a custom, even when the 
king, Ras, or governor, are at home, for their 
soldiers to form themselves into small parties and 
put one, whom they consider worthy, at their 
head, and go into the country from farmer to 
farmer, living at free quarters, no one daring to 
deny them, unless they are too exorbitant and 
unreasonable in their demands. On these occa- 
sions the villagers will give a general alarm, and 


raise the neighbouring villages to their assistance, 
and many lives are often lost on both sides. When 
this reaches the ears of the governor, he has both 
parties brought before him, and, if it is proved 
by oath, that the farmer offered them every thing 
reasonable, such as a kid, bread, and sowa, the 
soldiers are severely punished, their arms are 
taken from them, and they are dismissed; and 
should they have killed any of the people, those 
who struck the fatal blow are given over to the 
relations of the sufferers or sufferer ; but, on the 
contrary, should the farmer have refused to give 
them a supper and even lodgings, he is fined per- 
haps more than he is able to pay. 

I left Gullybudda in the morning, and about an 
hour afterwards I halted at the river Guddegudda^ 
which runs through the plain between Gullybudda 
and the foot of the mountain Awaro. Here I 
ordered the cow to be killed, and numbers of the 
women, who had not had any supper over-night, 
now received plenty of brindo; in less than two 
hours there was nothing left but the bones and 
skin, the latter being the perquisite of the chel- 
licar sigaTy master of the meat, which he sells to 
the leather-maker. We left the river Guddegudda 
about mid-day, the sky being very cloudy, and, 
about half past one, we began to ascend the 
mountain Awaro, which divides Dova from Kala^ 


meaning the cold and high country of Enderta 
from the low and warm country of Tigr^. The 
road up the mountain is very bad^ but a good mule 
will carry its rider up or down with safety. We 
stopped^ for about an faour^ at the church Kedan- 
er-merrit^ half way up the mountain^ which is 
almost hidden with large trees ; there are several 
caves in the sides of this ridge of mountains^ like 
excavations^ but Nature has formed them^ and they 
are converted into churches and dwellings for Aar- 
tones, or virgin-monks. They cannot be seen at 
any distance, either from above or below, being 
entirely hidden by shrubs and trees that grow 
wild from the projecting rocks. 

About four o'clock we arrived at a village in a 
plain upon the highest part of the mountain, and, 
although the cold was intense, we were obUged to 
stop before we could descend to a warmer spot, 
some of my women-servants being tired, and not 
having yet come up the mountain. This village 
belonged to a son of Shum GiraltaToclu, who had 
been left behind to look after the country, while the 
father was at camp. I sent to him, immediately 
on learning where he was ; being, as he pretended, 
unwell and at a great distance, he said he could 
not come, but he sent me a goat, some bread, and 
a jar of maize. 

Next morning I set out early, and, in about 


four hours^ came to the river Gibba. It being 
about ten o'clock^ we halted^ and killed a sheep 
and baked some berenters. After we had eaten, 
we agaui set out about twelve o'clock, and on our 
Toad we had a sharp shower of rain,' which gave 
us a good wetting. 

About four o'clock I arrived at my own house 
at Chelicut, where I found my gatekeeper and 
gardener had ^ed four days before, and the 
superstitious people wanted to persuade me that 
they were killed by ghosts, or devils, as they 
were both found dead together in the morning, 
after going to bed in perfect health, and having 
no signs of any wound upon their persons. The 
priests obliged me to let my people fire off all the 
fire-arms into the house, before any one should 
enter, and then to kill a sheep upon the ground- 
floor, and let the blood run upon the ground, and. 
also drink out a jar or two of maize; to all of 
which I immediately agreed, knowing the extent 
of their superstition upon such occasions. 

In all parts of Abyssinia, it is customary when 
any ne:w house is built, or a building has been left 
uninhabited for some time, and where there have 
been cattle killed and drink distributed, to kill a 
cow or a sheep, and distribute it within the 
buildings, which it is presumed satisfies the ghost 
of the place, who leaves the dwelling in peace; 


but, when such places become neglected, it haunts 
thera. and kills those whom it finds within the 
"walls ; and in this opinion every inhabitant at 
Abyssinia will firmly persist against all reason 

iMy neighbours brought me plenty of bread, 
coolsLed victuals, and maize. The head*priest, 
Allicar Barhe, and Asgas Gabri Yasous, the 
Ras's steward at Chelicut, maintained me 
three days, imtil I got my house put to rights, 
and even gave the women and strangers, who 
came with me firom Adowa, a lodging and sup- 

Being informed that Ito Debbib, the Ras's only 
brother living, was very ill, I went every morn - 
ing to see him, and returned about noon, it being 
a long ride, but over a level plain, after getting 
over the mountain of Comfu. One day, he pre- 
vailed on me to remain all night, but in the 
morning I begged to leave him to go and see my 
son, who was very ill also, and I promised him to 
return the same day. Upon my arrival at home 
I found my boy very ill, a great deal worse than 
he was when I left him; he brought this illness 
from Antklo, where I had sent him with his 
mother, a Galla slave, to live with a friend until 
we should return from camp. On this occasion 
a very extraordinary circumstance happened; 


while I was sitting by the poor boy, a servant <l 
Ito Dimsu entered the house with the blool 
running down his cheeks, crying bitterly, Guiiyl 
gmty ! [Master I master !] Hearing this, I 
ordered my horse to be saddled, knowing before 
he spoke that his master was dead. As I wsur 
going to mount, and had got one foot in th^| 
stirrup, I heard a cry all of a sudden from the 
people whom I had left in the house, in the Am- 
hara language, Lighol ligho! [Your son! your 
son !] I returned into the house, and perceived 
that the breath had departed from my poor boy, 
the only child God had been pleased to bestow 
upon me. Never in my life did I experience such 
a shock, though I strove to refrain from sorrow, 
but to no purpose. The sight of the poor dead 
boy I loved so dearly, and the disappointment of 
the expectations I had formed of his proving^ 
on a future day the only comfort I should have, 
afflicted me so much that I really wished to die 
with him. 

Ito Dimsu's servant saw the whole melancholy 
affair, and went off without saying a word, and 
the townspeople came flocking in crowds, until 
both the house and yard were full ; for my ow» 
part I could not bear the sight of any one ; I 
would rather have been left by myself, but that 
was impossible. The priests came, and the cus- 


tomary prayers were read^ and my poor child was^ 
carried away to be buried, his mother following 
in a distracted manner. 

After the funeral, the people returned to my 
house ; and after they had cried for about half an 
hour, I begged they would leave off and let me. 
have a little rest, as I found myself unweU. 
They complied, and left me with only a few 
friends; but, in a few minutes, the people of 
Antklo, my acquaintances, hearing of my mi«- 
fortunes, came flocking and began their cry, and 
1 was obliged to sit and hear the name of my 
dead boy repeated a thousand times, with cries 
that are inexpressible, whether feigned or real. 
Though no one had so much reason to lament as 
myself, I could never have shown my grief in 
so affected a manner, though my heart felt 
much more. 

Before the cry was over, the people with dewes 
were standing in crowds about my house, striving 
who should get in first, and the door was entirely 
stopped up, till at last my people were obliged to 
keep the entrance clear by force, and let only one 
at a time into the house. Some brought twenty 
or thirty cakes of bread, some a jar of maize^ 
some cooked victuals, fowls, and bread, some a 
sheep, &c. ; and in this manner, I had my house 
filled so full that I was obliged to go out into 

190 BEVVES. 

the yard^ until things were put in order ai 
supper was ready. The head-priest came wH 
a jar of maize and a cow. 

What neighbours and acquaintances bring k 
the manner aboFe-mentioned is called clewe^ 
the bringers are all invited to eat with you ; tbe^ 
talk and tell stories to divert your thoughts fnxi 
the sorrowful subject; they force you to drink i 
great deal; but I have remarked that at these 
cries, when the relatives of the deceased become 
a little tranquil in their minds, some old woman, 
or some person who can find no one to talk tXH 
win make a sudden dismal cry, saying, ^^ Ob 
what a fine child ! and is he already forgotten! "* 
This puts the company into confiisioi^ and all 
join in the cry, which perhaps will last half an 
hour, during which the servants and conunon 
people, standing about, drink out all the maize, 
and, when well drunk, will form themselves into 
a gang at the door and begin their cry; and if 
their masters want another jar of maize to drink 
they must pour it out themselves, their servants 
being so intoxicated that they cannot stand. In 
this manner they pass away a day without taking 

* The whole of this scene bears a most femarkable similarity 
to the ceremonies observed at the funerals of the lower orders o 
Trish.^^c&Vor. ! 

BURIALS. ' 191 

^ i must say^ however^ that the first part of the 

laneral is very afiecting^ and the only feult I can 

find is^ that they bury their dead the instant they 

iiexpire. If a grown person of either sex, or a 

spriest, is by them when they expire, the moment 

f^e br^h departs, the cries and shouts, which 

Aiave been kept up for hours before, are recommen- 

^ced with fury; the priests read prayers of forgive- 

Miess^ while the body is washed, and the hands 

i^put across one another, upon the lower part of 

^'the belly, and tied to keep them in that position, 

the jaws tied as close as possible, the eyes closed, 

^ the two great toes tied together, and the 'body is 

wrapped in a clean cloth and sewed up; after 

which the skin called neet, the only bed an 

Abyssinian has to lie upon, is tied over the cloth, 

and the corpse laid upon a couch and carried 

to the church, the bearers walking at a slow pace^ 

According to the distance of the house from the 

church, the whole route is divided into seven 

equal parts, and, when the^y come to the end of 

every seventh part, the corpse is set dovm, and 

prayers of forgiveness oflFered to the Supreme 

Being for the deceased. Every neighbour helps 

to dig the grave, bringing their own materials for 

the purpose, and all try to outwork one another*. 

Indeed, when a stranger happens to die where he 

has no acquaintances, numbers always flock to 


assist in burying him^ and many of the towns* 
people will keep an hour's cry^ as if they had been 
related. There is no expense for burying^ as 
every one assists his neighbour^ as I have men- 
tioned above. But the priests demand an ex- 
orbitant sum, from those who have property, 
for prayers of forgiveness, and I have seen two 
priests quarrelling over the cloth of a poor dead 
woman, the only good article she had left. If a 
man dies and leaves a wife and child, the poor 
woman is drained of the last article of value she 
possesses to purchase meat and drink for those 
priests, for six months after her misfortune, 
otherwise they would not bestow a prayer upon her 
husband, which would disgrace her and render 
her name odious amongst the lowest of the 
populace. In this manner, I have known many 
families ruined. 

An Agow servant of Mr. Coffin's, who had 
been left behind with me on account of ill health, 
died at Chelicut, where he had formerly taken a 
wife, and the Utile wages he had saved had 
enabled him and his wife to keep a yoke of 
oxen, she having a piece of land of her own. 
Knowing the man to be very poor, and the greats 
regard he had for his master, I was induced to 
give a fat cow and a jar of maize to the priests, to 
pray for the poor man's soul; this they took, and 


the poor woman made what corn she had into 
bread and beer for them, after which they re- 
fused to keep their weekly fettart [prayers of 
forgiveness] for a month, unless she paid them 
fnore^ to complete which, and to satisfy these 
wretches, she was obliged to sell her two oxen, 
and the poor woman was again reduced to work 
and labour hard with the pickaxe* 

The drum having beat at Ant^o, for the peo- 
ple to assemble at that place, to keep the cry for 
the Ras':s brother, Ito Dcbbib, on the plain below 
the town of Woger Arreva, where he died, on 
the Thursday following his death, notwithstand- 
ing the loss of my only son, I saddled my mule, 
and joined in the cry, to show my respect, in 
company with Ito Woldi Raphael, the Ras's 
nephew, who had been left in charge of Wojjerat 
against the invasion of the Galla, and who was 
passing by Chelicut with his army, on his way to 
the cry, when I was about starting* 

He stopped a few minutes to cry for my boy, 
and then we set out together for the plain, which, 
upon our arrival, we found thickly covered with 
people of both sexes. The argovery which is a 
sofa arched over with canes and covered with silk 
curtains, was just descending from the town, 
which we could see at a distance, with numbers 
of soldiers in the front firing their matchlocks ; 

VOL, I, K 


and by the time we came up, the sofa was placed In 
the customary position, and the carpets and other 
articles of grandeur that belonged to the deoeased 
were spread round about it. This sofa is to 
imitate the bed on which the deceased died ; his 
efBgy is also made and put upon one of his mules ; 
his horses are led before with his musket-men, 
the whole of his household following, with their 
shields and spears, having nothing but a skin 
round their waist, with their forehead and tem- 
ples all torn, shouting and crying in a horrid 
manner. The churches of the country send eadi a 
devaly which is an article of taste, made of silk or 
carpet stuff, in the form of an umbrella, and fixed 
upon a long pole 3 and they pay the men who 
bring them two pieces of salt each, all churches 
having more or less of them according to. ancient 
custom } but the church belonging to the town 
or village where the deceased died sends all its 
devals and public ornaments to grace the funeral. 
There were three hundred and fifty standing at 
this cry, which was considerably more than there 
were at the cry of Ito Manassey, his brother, and it 
was greatly talked of among the population. The 
women are seated on these occasions in one large 
body, and the men in another; they rise from 
their seats, one at a time, and, after repeating 
rhymes in honour of the deceased, the ceremony 


finishes with a lamentable cry £rom all the. as- 

There are numbers of ,men and women^ who 
get a living by making rhymes and attending at 
cries^ who are often sent for frotfk a great distance^ 
to attend the cry of a person of distinctipn ; and, 
if they are noted poets, they receive high pay in 
com^ cattle, or cloth* I am acquainted with a 
very handsome middle-ag^d woman, who, though 
she has a large estate to Uve upon, has studied 
poetry from her infancy, and attends gratuitously 
at all cries that are very public, and for 410 other 
purpose than to diatiaguish herself. She is 
reckoned the best poet, either in the Amh^a^or 
Tigr£ language, in .the country; her pa^e is 
Welleta Yasous ; she was bom in Gondar, but her 
father was a Tigr^an. . Many great men have 
offered to marry her, but she could never be per- 
suaded to listen to their proposals, though I do 
not mean to say she led a c)ia3te life, a very rare 
virtue indeed in Ethiopia. 

The Amhara people differ from the Tigr^ in 
their manner of crying and weeping : that of the 
latter is very affecting, but that of the former is 
really ridiculous. They dress themselves as fine 
as possible, and cry, sing, and dance, to the beat 
of a drum ; when the cry is over, those who have 
not far to return to their homes in general feast 
K 2 



with the relatives of the deceased. When sucb 
great people as Ito Debbib die^ a general cry is 
held throughout the whole country, both in Am- 
hara and Tigr^, and for three days' journey around 
the people will bring devves to the relations. 

The natives of Tigr^ are mwe accustomed to 
wear mourning than the Amhara, and some, in- 
stead of making mourning cloths, wear their cloth 
until it is entirely black with dirt, and this serves 
them for a mourning suit. They in general go 
into mourning for sixty days : some wear a piece 
of blue Surat cloth, such as the merchants bring 
from the East ; but the true mourning suit of the 
people of rank is a new white cloth, first dyed 
yellow with waver y the wood of a tree, which the 
monks use to dye their garments. When the 
cloth is dyed yellow, it is again buried in a black 
mud, common in all plains, called walkar; afker 
remaining buried three days, it is taken out and 
washed, but still remains black. Such suits of 
mourning will last in a family for many years 
they borrow and lend them also among friends. 

Ito Debbib, being of a different religion from 
the Ras, and his deceased brother, Manassey,was 
not buried in the same church as Manassey, but 
was taken to Surrova, and buried in a church 
dedicated to Abuna Slathivus, belonging to those 
who profess the religion Bate er Slathivus ; the 


whole of Gojam profess this faith^ and nearly 
half of the large province Hamazen. 

After the expiration of the cry, which lasted 
three days, I returned home to Chelicut with Ito 
Woldi Raphael, that being his nearest way to 
Antalo, where he wanted to go ; here we received 
news that the Ras was upon his return, and en- 
camped at the Tacazz^, near AvergaUe. 


Mr. CoflBn's Journal of the Expedition to Gondair — Departure 
of th6 Army from Axuin— The River Tacazz6— River Moi 
Lomin — Oranges — Cotton — Irrigation — Monkeys — Strong 
Mountain of Chirremferrer — ^The Troops annoyed by Stones 
rolled from the Mountwn — ^They take it by Storm — ^Fodder for 
Cattle — Hay not known in Abyssinian-Dangerous mountain 
roads — ^The Worari, or Foragers — Gudgauds, or Pits for con- 
cealing Goods — ^Adventure of Pearce in a Gudgaud — ^Tree called 
Genvarar; superstitious notion respecting it — Encampments 
— ^The Ras enters Inchetkaub, the capital of Ras Guebra — 
Arder Rummet, the capital of Walkayt — Reception by Woldi 
Comfu — The Shangalla — Elephant-hunt-^tory of a Monk- 
Strength of the Army — Sudden Death of Woldi Comfu^-A 
Galla girl stolen from the Ras by his Nephew, Shum Temben 
Sarlu — ^The Ras deprives him of his districts— Treaty with 
Guxo and Ras Ilo — ^Beautiful Valley of Shoader. 

February 24th. We struck our camp at Axum^ 
and marched by a forced march to Arder Sarfe, 
thinking that if we made slow marches Ras 
Guebra would be warned, and would have time to 
drive the cattle out of the country to his strong 
mountains. This is a small district in Barrerquor, 
belonging to Ito Sallander^ one of the grandsons 
of the king M inicuffa, who provided for the Ras 
every thing that his little district could afford. 
The next day we marched to a small plain, called 

* For the whole of the account of the Ras's expedition to 
Gondar, which occupies this and the next chapter, Pearce is in- 
debted to the kindness of Mr. Coffin, he himself having never 
been nearer to Gondar than the mountains of Samen. — Editor, 


Aidersarhi^ about six miles from the large and 

capital town of Mumfrets^ in Shir^ ; here we en* 

eamped among high rushes and fine grass^ and 

were provided for by Chellica Comfu, of the 

Raa's household, the commander of that district. 

The following day we marched to the Tacazz^^ 

which we crossed^ and encamped upon the west 

banlc, where some petty chiefs, under the Ras's 

doDoinkoi, brought him two cows, some maize, 

and bread. 

In the morning, our Fit^aurari marched before 
daylight, and the Ras after sunrise. On account of 
the king, who had his &FOurite wife Ozoro Cott- 
ser with him, he had two small tents always 
pitched at a small distance in the rear of the Ras's 
tent. Our road lay to-day nearly south, and 
seldom far from the Tacazz^. The Worari foraged 
in aU directions; and several hundred sheep and 
goats, and a few cows, were brought, in the 
evening, into the camp at Moi Lomin, a beautiful 
little narrow river, which rises in the different 
mountains of Sainen, and runs very rapidly into 
the Tacazz^. Moi Lomin signifies Water Oa 
Limes 5 Buckerer Lomin would signify Water of 
Oranges. Many sour oranges, and vast quantities 
of limes, grow in different spots of garden-ground, 
for several mUes in its vicinity. It is a deep 
valley, not in the least affected by the cold from 


the mountains, A great deal of cotton is coltT^ 
vated on the banks of this river ; it is watered by 
cuts from above^ or small channels about- two feet 
wide^ which Tun along the sides of the mountain, 
and enable the inhabitants to water the ground 
with little trouble. In all parts of Abyssinia, 
indeed, during the dry season, the lands are 
watered in a similar manner, when near the riyers, 
and some grounds frequently grow two crops of 
any sort of grain. The corn that is obtained in 
the dry seasons by irrigation is called, in Tigr^, 
tqffagi; but this corn is not so much esteemed 
as t(iff^ currwrnptj which is the com produced after 
the rains have fallen. 

We passed our Sunday in this delightful spot, 
where I shot some monkeys of a beautiful kind^ 
called warg. They have a white beard, black 
face, yellow hairy body, and a long tail, with a 
brush of white long hair at the extremity, the 
skin on the belly being of a bluish silver colour. 
I kept one of these animals for three years, with 
several other kinds of monkeys, but I found none 
so cleanly and cunning as the first. The chil- 
lerdeTy another native of Samen, is also a very 
clean animal for a monkey ; this is of large size, 
with a black face, very dark brown hair, and a red 
bare cross on the breast, and it has a very particu- 
lar cry when calling to its companions, or to its 


young when fearful. I kept one of them for a 
long time^ but the continual mischief she did me 
and my neighbours caused me to grow weary of 
her^ and> after breaking a looking-glass belonging 
to a lady of Chdicut, an article that could not be 
replaced in this country, I^ in my anger, set my 
dogs upon her, who devoured her immediately. 
I did this more to satisfy my neighbours than 
from any personal motive, for, often before, when 
I had tied the animal for her mischievous tricks, 
she would cry out Humu for hours together, so 
distinctly, and look so pitiful, that I could not help 
letting her loose again out of mere compassion. 

March 1st. We left Moi Lomin, and marched 
over the mountains to Chirremferrer, one of Ras 
Guebra's strong mountains, but far inferior in 
strength to Amba Hai. As the Worari ap- 
proached this mountain, skirmishing with the 
enemy, who were in large bodies driving their 
cattle to the top of the mountains, numbers of 
our men were killed and wounded by stones 
thrown from the top of the mountain, some of 
the largest of which did more execution than a 
hundred muskets. In peace, as well as in war, 
large piles of stones are kept upon these moun- 
tains, and some very large ones are slung with 
ropes round the edges of the precipices, so that 
in case of an attack they are ready to be cut frorti 
K 5 


behind the piles, or thrown, without, the natives 
beii^ exposed to the enemy's fire-arms. Tk^ 
Worari were compelled to desist until th^ Fit- 
aurari came up, when he also was obliged to halt 
at a safe distance from the foot of the mountain^ 
but, on the Ras's approach, the shout of " Gover- 
ser EadmsahV* was heard from all quarters of 
the army, and the soldiers began to ascend like 
•so many apes in all directions ; and, though num- 
bers were killed and wounded. by the pieces of 
large stone that came rolling down the sides of 
the mountain, they gained a small hillock, where 
they were out of danger of the stones that hung 
in great piles from that side. Upon this hillock, 
about thirty musket-men had already secured 
themselves, and, with little difficulty shot anyone 
who approached the piles in sight, iu Order to 
throw down the stones. Several of the enemy 
were shot in attempting to cut away some large 
stones that were hung with stripes of cow's hide, 
which beinj^ dried were so hard that they could 
not be divided without great difficulty, exposing 
those whoattempted it to the fire of our gunners. 
I shot one of the enemy, while endeavouring to 
disengage one of the stones ) he fell to the bottom 
of the precipice, but I did not of course practise 
the barbarity common on such occasions, for 
which the Ras afterwards chided me, as he had 


frequently done before^ at which times I have 
taken the liberty of telling him that his country- 
men^ who could thus mangle a dead body^ were 
little better than brutes and cowards. I some- 
times got the better of them in argument^ when 
they would reply^ ^^ Our fathers hare shown us 
the example^ as well as in eating raw meat^ and 
neither force nor persuasion can make any alter- 
ation .'' The king^ Itsa Isack^ formerly made a 
proclamation^ by order of the Abuna^ that no per- 
son should' eat raw meat, but he was glad to recal 
it^ for even the priests rose against him. 

The people upon the mountain Chirremferrer 
were glad to relinquish the contest^ and give up 
all their cattle, upon a promise that no one should 
be killed after the gateway had been opened. 
This mountain is small^ but a good defence 
against such an enemy as the Amhara^ who 
have little experience in the use of fire-arms. 
The people of Samen are in general good gun- 
ners, but not to be compared with the Tigr^ 
soldiers. After storming and plundering^ we 
marched down to a small winding valley, where 
we encamped. There not being more than forty- 
six trophies produced before the Ras, he was 
very ill-tempered, saying he had lost more men 
than the enemy, and ordering those who were 
advancing with their captives to be beaten by the 


Gaffaries from the front of his tent. Here 
every one began to live upon his own plunder^ 
and no one ate with the Ras except myself. 

At this place we were obliged to feed our 
horses and mules \xpongulliver [straw], which is 
but poor food upon a march, unless it is good ta^ 
gulliver, which is excellent, and much resembles 
hay. In the Tigr^ language it is called arser. 
The inhabitants have no notion however of making 
hay, in any part of the country, though they 
might procure some stacks if they thought 
proper. The piece of meadow ground I had at 
Chelicut produced me, in the month of October, 
a large rick of good hay, though I had always a 
plentiful crop of green grass the whole year round, 
having a stream of water from above that ran in 
any direction in which I chose to turn it. I 
found the hay agree much better with my cattle, 
during the rains, but no one followed my example, 
thinking their custom best. Both horses and 
mules in all parts of Abyssinia are crammed, by 
those that can afford it, every three days, with a 
large lump of rock-salt, which is first pounded 
and mixed with a little water, so as to make it 
into a lump. Many of the Amhara will cram 
their horses with barley-flour and honey mixed 
together, but the pagan Galla feed their horses 
with milk, though the common food of horses 


in the Christian countries is barley* Oats grow 
wild^ and nothing is thought of them. 

March 2nd. We left Chirremferrer and pur- 
sued our march, sometimes having to climb up 
very steep mountains. The Ras and the king were 
often obliged to dismount^ while the people were 
in continual danger of falling from the sides of 
the steep mountains, which we had to traverse 
round; numbers of horses, mules, and asses, 
were thrown from oflf the precipices by the 
crowd, and dashed to pieces, and I lost five asses, 
with aH their loading, chiefly consisting of honey 
and flour. I had the additional misfortune to 
lose a bag of powder and shot, gun-screws, and 
other useful articles, as well as my bed and a 
sanga-s hide, which happened to be upon one of 
the asses. 

Notwithstanding the badness of the roads, the 
Worari found their way in all directions, not a 
village remained unbumed, nor was an animal of 
any kind left to the poor owners, who fled for 
their lives. We encamped in the district of 
Arwozen, which always belongs to a Mahomedan 
chief, the inhabitants being chiefly Mahomedans. 
At this time Ras Guebra had placed a favourite 
chief over it; but it by right belonged to Bashaw 
Abdalla, whom he kept in chains upon Amba 
Hai. Here some people, who had met the Ras 


^t Chirremferrer^ and to whom he had given a 
tubbuck [an officer with an escort] to keep the 
WOTari from plundering their town^ came in with 
their tribute^ consisting of cattle^ cloths^ and 
gold^ and acknowledged him their ruler^ and not 
Ras Guebra. The Worari do not like this peace- 
able work^ though numbers of them are killed 
daily^ when engaged in burning and plundering. 

It is perhaps proper that I shoidd here give 
some description of the Worari. They consist of 
different bodies under no particular command^ 
into which they form themselves as chance dU 
rects ; but they are all soldiers belonging to the 
different chiefs, as well as to the Ras or king. 
So many of one mess or party will go foraging 
for their commanders one day, while the others 
look after the baggage, if they have any, which 
is seldom the case, unless they have got it by 
plunder ; and their women, while the men are 
plundering, cut from trees boughs enough to make 
a gqfa. I once went with my servants and a 
party of the Worari upon one of their foraging 
parties, merely to experience their nature, but 
the Ras, upon hearing of it, was considerably 
alarmed, and begged me never to repeat it. 

It is a common custom, in all parts of Abys- 
sinia, for the inhabitants of the villages to have . 
gudgaudSf large pits under-ground, plastered 


within with cow-dung and mud, and having the 
mouth very nairow^ Bome of which are made to 
hold forty or fifty chums of com^ between three 
and four hundred English bushels* These gtut^ 
gauds are not only made near, the viUages and 
towns^ but idso in the open fields^ and, when an 
niTasion is expected, the com and other valuables 
axe put into them^ and the mouths very care- 
fully covered, first with spars laid close together^ 
so that no earth may fall through ; after which 
the part above the spars is filled with earth to 
bring it upon a level with the adjoining ground. 
Should the spot happen to- be upon ploughed 
land, then the whole is ploughed over and over 
again to conceal the mouth of the gndgaud ; if 
upon any other ground, it is made to appear like 
the ground about it; or, if near the town or village, 
wood-ashes and rubbish are thrown over it to 
give it the appearance of a dunghill : but, as this 
custom has prevailed for many years, and wars 
are so frequent in all parts, the Worari have 
become so well acquainted with the mode of 
finding these hiding-places, that they scarcely 
ever escape their obvervation. The way they 
begin to work is as follows. After destroying a 
village, or finding it deserted by the inhabitants, 
they form into different parties, and, keeping in a 
close body, begin to sing their own warlike songs. 


stamping and going on in a regular pace^ keeping 
time with their song, and throwing their shields 
over their heads^ and holding their spears close 
to the end of the shaft with the bright glitterii^ 
blades in the air^ turning about at times in a 
lively way, as if they were not in search of any 
thing, but dancing and jumping for their pas- 
time. I always thought this a beautiful sight. 
In this manner they continue until they find the 
ground sound hollow under their feet, when they 
lay their shields in a circle round the spot^ and 
every one sets-to with both hands, as eager as 
hyaenas after their prey ; they soon claw out all 
the earth, break in the rafters, and then begin 
to fill their skins or bags : if they suspect any 
danger from the natives being in ambuscade near 
the place, to come upon them unarmed, they put 
down two people at a time into the pit, till every 
one has got his load, those above keeping a good 
look-out. After all are well loaded they take no 
farther care for their common safety, but set off to 
the camp in a disorderly manner, which gives the 
inhabitants an opportunity to kill those who fall 
tired by the way. In general there is more 
blood shed in Abyssinia among these straggling 
parties of Worari than in their regular battles. 

I have heard Mr. Pearce say that, when in Edjow, 
in 1807^ he was once left in the gudgaud^ filling his 


hag, when a body of Galla horse made a charge on 
the Worari, killing a great number, and driving 
the rest to the side of the moimtain close by, 
where they held their ground against the horse^ 
until happily for him a reinforcement by chance 
came from the camp. During the whole affair 
he sat, with his eyes towards the entrance of the 
gudgaud, with his blunderbuss cocked and pointed; 
till at last the horsemen retreated, and his com- 
rades' shouts were distinctly heard, when, to 
his great joy, he soon heard the tramp of their 
feet over his head, and the next minute the cry of, 
" Pearce, are you full? we have driven them 
to the devil, but they have cut a great many of 
us up V' 

March 3rd. We left Arwozen, and marched 
over the worst of mountains, as yesterday. The 
Worari had been ordered not to advance in front 
of the Fit-aurari, the Ras fearing they would all 
be cut off by Ras Guebra's army, which had as- 
sembled at Behader, with the view, not of giving 
battle, which they dared not hazard, but of watch- 
ing the motions of the Worari, and taking re- 
venge on them. In the afternoon we reached 
the top of a high mountain, extremely cold, but 
having no snow upon it. The ridge of this 
mountain joins Behader, and here we encamped, 
on a plain that extends along the top of the 


mountain for a great distance. This mountaiii^ 
as well as other mountains in Samen^ has mim^ 
bers of the curious trees called genvarar, tliat 
appear at a distance like naked men. The people 
well never cut them^ owing to a superstilioua 
prejudice they entertain that something bad 
would in consequence befal them. I seldom saw 
any of these trees above eight feet high. It is as. 
well^ foolish as it may appear, for me to explain 
the superstitious notions they entertain about 
these trees, or trunks, as they have no bouglis. 
They say that these trees contain evil spirits, 
which have been cast out of human beings, and, 
while they are not disturbed by being cut down, 
they neither enter nor trouble any one, but when 
cut down they again enter into some person out 
of revenge, though it is believed not in general 
into those who cut them down. This tree yields 
a milky substance, which is used by way of ink, 
for the purpose of writing charms, to be worn on 
any part of the body as a cure for those who are 
possessed by evil spirits, and to prevent their 
entering those who are not previously tormented 
with them. I have knovm people send a person 
from Antklo and Chelicut, when any of their 
family has been ill with a lingering sickness, to 
fetch the milk or a piece of the genvarar from 
the mountains of Samen. 


Tkfe day a great miinber of our tired asaea and 
people were captured by the tnx^s of Raa 
Guebra^ who had been dogging the rear as they 
pfts^ed Behader without our dugin observmg 
thesn. Dugm ui the name of the rear-guard of 
an army, the principal chiefs daily taking the 
coinmand of it in their turns. It enters the 
oanip wbea nearly dark, and appears in as regukr 
order a» their discij^oie admits before the Ras's 
tent, where the duef dismounts and makes fait 
obeiaanee at a great distance, and then marches 
alone up to the Ras, and reports to him that all 
is flftfe within the bounds of the camp. He after* 
wards retires to his own quarters, unless he 
•hould be asked to sapper, which seldom happens 
antess he be a great ih^ourite. 

The manner in which the Abyssinians encamp 
is^ I iMnk, worthy of notice* When encamped 
On a plain, which very rarely occurs in an enemy's 
country, the whole scene has a somewhat orderly 
appearance, though, at the best of times, it can- 
not be called regular. The Fit-aurari, with the 
advanced guard, always encamps three or four 
miles in front of the main camp, their tents being 
pitched with their front facing the way they have 
to march. The king, or Ras, is always stationed 
in the centre of the camp, in general upon the 
highest spot) his btiggerund and chief blitin^ 


gatorey his head secretary and treasurer, are in 
front of his tetit^ at a short distance, his own 
household and horses in the rear, and on the 
sides of the tent and round the whole the soldiers' 
gqfas are built in a circle, from the hinder part 
of the blitingatore's camp, where there is left a 
small entrance. All the other chiefs are en- 
camped round about, so that their camps nearly 
join each other. Every chief has a large square 
tent with long lines ; no one makes his gqfa 
within their length ; their soldiers are encamped 
round them in a circle, and the horses and mules 
are tied with ropes made of cow's hide, ^rhich 
go roimd the neck of the animal. A small hole 
is dug in the ground, as far down as the hand 
from the elbow can reach, and a handful of grass 
or straw is fastened to the end of the rope, and 
then put into the hole to the bottom. They then 
fill up the hole with earth and stones, and 
beat it well down, which will more than resist 
the strength of the animal, in case he should 
take fright. This method the Abyssinians prefer 
to a stake, or any other substitute. 

March 3rd. We marched from this place a 
little before sunrise, and, after descending the 
mountain, which is not so bad on this side 
as on the side we ascended, we got upon what 
is reckoned a good road in this country. The 


Worari had again been ordered^ by the beat of 
the drum, not to advance in front of the Fit- 
aurari. As we approached Inchetkaub, flocks 
of priests came out to meet the Ras in their 
holy garments, and holding their crosses un- 
covered. They caused the Fit-aurari to stop 
and not advance a step farther, until they had 
seen the Ras, and, as the front of the army 
approached them, they held up their crosses, for- 
bidding any that were Christians to pass them. 
Accordingly the chiefs, with their divisions, 
turned aside and ^halted. The Ras, on coming 
up, alighted from his mule and walked up in iront 
of the priests, and made a bow to the cross, but 
would not give ear to what they had to. say, telling 
them merely, that he would not harm their capi- 
tal, but make it his residence. The king Tecla 
Gorgis passed by them with more haughtiness, 
and never so much as stopped his mule, but called 
out, ^^ Take down your crosses, and cover them 
up,'* vyhich order they did not obey. The Ras 
ordered by beat of drum not to plunder or bum 
any part of the town, but commanded that every 
chief should have such separate quarters as he 
should think proper to point out; and we marched 
in as if we were marching into Adowa or Ant&lo. 
The women met the army in gangs, beating 
drums, dancing, and singing in praise of the 


Badinsah, to thk e£Fect : — ^^ Badinsah has ten 
thousand trophies, while Guebra is hui:^ upon 
the mountain.'' 

The Ras entered Has Guebra's premises. His 
wives, who had put themselves under the protec- 
tion of the priests, were taken from them by 
force and brought to the Ras. The king had a 
part of the. premises for himself and train, some 
symptoms of whose treachery had been plaiDly 
pointed out to the. Ras,. in his haviji^ sent and re- 
ceived private. messi^es from Has Guebra, then 
in the mountain Amba Hai; upon this orders 
were privately given by the Ras to his favourite 
petty chiefs, who by turns kept guard every night 
round his tent when in camp, to look strictly 
into the king's motions, but as if they took no 
particidar notice. The Ras directed his secretary 
to collect all the chiefs under him in his tent, and 
he did not enter a house that night, but had his 
tent pitched vrithin the walk, in front af the great 
aderrash^ a long thatched house, \vhich was oc- 
cupied by the Ras's abbuzers, cooking-women, 
maize-carriers, &c., and pointed out different 
quarters for the chiefs in waiting. At supper, 
the ladies belonging to Ras Guebra were all 
presented to the Ras, I bdng present, but no per- 
son besides. The Ras said very little to any of 
them, except the oldest favourite wife of Ras 


<7aebra, with whom he discoursed upon the con- 
tinual treachery of her husband towards him. 
Kas Guebra kept more than sixty women^ but 
not more than thirty three appeared this eveniiq^ 
at supper^ the others having made their escape 
froin mistrust of the Ras^ and gone to Amba Hai. 
After supper they all returned to their separate 
apartments within the walls. One beautiful 
Gralla, whom Ras Guebra had brought up and 
educated under a priest of great learning, the old 
gentleman recalled, and gave in care to Abbuzer 
Hsral, the head-cook. 

The next day, the Ras ordered the drum to 
beat, to warn every body to be careful of their 
provisions and what they had plundered, as they 
would not quit this station for many days. The 
great Lent, or fast, had begun several days be- 
fore; I used to eat meat, being allowed it on 
account of illness. The wotada will drink water 
when upon a march, but not eat anything until 
the proper hour, which is, when your shade is 
nine times the length of your foot in the afternoon; 
in other fasts it is more. 

Fit-aurari Suddal being upon the march for 
Walkayt, I obtained permission to go with him 
for a few days, and returned with the Gusmati 
Woldi Comfu. 

March 6th. We left Inchetkaub early in the 


morning with not more than two hundred sol- 
diers^ without any baggage^ having previously 
sent e^-ery thing forward. We halted for the 
night in a wilderness upon the skirts of the holy 
land of Waldubba, leaving the Segudda to our 
left. Before day-light we again set off^ and, after 
marching through the wildest roads, arrived about 
midday at a small village in Walkayt, where Fit- 
aurari took some refreshment, it being Saturday, 
on which day, as well as on Sundays, they do not 
fast, but eat no flesh. When we had refreshed 
ourselves we again set off, and marched though 
numerous cotton plantations, watered from dif- 
ferent small streams that run from the mountains. 
At night, after dark, we arrived at Arder Rum- 
met, the capital of Walkayt. 

Woldi Comfu was at supper, but the moment 
he was told of his brother's arrival he caused his 
hall to be cleared to make room for the visiters, 
as several people belonging to the Ras's household 
were with the Fit-aurari only for a visit. I was 
the first introduced to him, and, though he had 
never seen me before, he seated me upon his own 
sofa, while all others, as well as his brother, were 
seated, as is customary, on the floor. After supper 
there was a great quantity of maize presented. 
He hearing that the Has had required his pre- 
sence at hils camp in less than ten days, nothing 


but bustle was heard and seen about his house- 
hold ; for it is usual for the soldiers, in all parts 
of Abyssinia, before their masters take the field, 
or when they go to camp only for a visit, to come 
before them in turn and shew their activity with 
their arms, and boast of what they have done and 
will do. I slept in the same adderrash in which 
we ate our supper, while the Gusmati retired to 
his women's apartment. Next morning a sheep 
was killed for me, every one being fasters except 
a young boy, nephew to the Gusmati, who ate 
upon a side-table with me. 

A Tigr^ chief, son to Ito Cofta, had come pur* 
posely to kill an elephant, which the youngsters 
in Abyssinia in general do, to distinguish them- 
selves in their first setting o£F, and their next ex- 
ploit is to kill a Galla, or a Shangalla; for, until 
a youth has done this, he has but little to 9ay in 
company. Cofta having made known his inten- 
tions, the Gusmati ordered him a guide. Wal- 
kayt is the northernmost boundary of Abyssinia 
west of the Tacazz^. The neighbouring people 
north and west are Shangalla, or common Ne>- 
groes, who inhabit this country in diflferent tribes 
far to the north and west ; their language differs 
in almost every tribe, and they are by far the 
mildest-tempered race I ever saw. Ras Welled 
Selass^ has always near his person a great number 

vol., I, h 


of them^ who are educated by a sdioi^niaster^ 
whom he keeps on his premises to teach the 
slaves of all kinds. The tribes bordering on the 
territory of the Christians are continually hunted 
and tormented by them ; they inhabit the most 
desert parts, eat elephants, wild buffalo, came 
lopard, rhinoceros, rats, snakes, frogs, &c. They 
are hunted by the Christians, who kill the old 
men if taken, and make slaves of the ycmng. In 
and about Walkayt there are numbers of Shangalla 
who have become familiar with the Christians 
and Mahometans, and who in the rainy season 
cultivate spots in the adjoining desert, and sow 
the grain called marshella, under the protection 
of the Gusmati of Walkayt. 

Cofta set out in the evening, for the purpose of 
shooting an elephant, with some gunners. In 
Walkayt, Ras-el-feel, and Shir^, on the east of the 
Tacazz^, the elephant-hunters have large and 
long matchlocks for the purpose, which they 
lend to those who want to kill, but the owner 
receives some teeth for the loan. Cofta, beu^ 
too yotmgto handle the spear, preferred a match- 

Next morning, the .Gusmati lent me one of his 
mules to go with some of his Shangalla horsemen 
to see them kill an elephant. His nephew, a boy 
not more than ten years of age, went with us, 


and we were accompanied by sereral gunners 
besides my own servants. The Shangalla were 
eight in number, with four horses ; four of them 
had spears and shields, the other four had swords 
9uch as come from Sennaar, sharp on both edges. 
On our road we passed through the desert which 
is nearly covered with thorny bushes. I observed 
in several places Shangalla ploughing the sandy 
earth against the rains, as in -general there are a 
few days' rain in all parts of Abyssinia in the 
month of April, when they sow the grain. These 
Shangalla w^e now preparing for what is called 
marshella. Two women, naked, with straps over 
their shoulders and holding by both hands, drag- 
ged the plough, while a man steered it. About 
three in the afternoon we got sight of a number 
of elej^iants and rhinoceroses ; when the eight 
men got upon their four horses, one upon the 
saddle, with his spear and shield, and another be- 
hind with a sword, which is very sharp towards 
the point. About a span and a half above this 
they have a piece of hide wrapped round the 
blade, fitting the right hand that the edges may 
not cut them. Some have a cord twisted round 
the blade, which serves them always when they 
go a-hunting ; if hide is used they want a fresh 
piece every time, because, when dry, they cannot 
get it off without cutting it, and to soak it in 
L 2 


water would spoil the blade^ though some of 
them prefer this trouble, on account of the good 
and secure hold they have of it. We were or- 
dered by the Shangalla to sit down all together, 
and not to fire a gun or make the least noise; 
some of the elephants*' were eating the trees 
about two himdred yards below us. The hunters 
then rode off in di£ferent directions, and selected 
the elephant they found furthest from the herd. 
The horses being used to the sport, the men ride 
at full speed quite in front of the elephant they 
mean to kill, when they bring the horse up sud* 
denly, aiid if possible the spearsman will strike 
his spear into the eye, or as nearly so as he can. 
Whether he strikes the animal or not he turns 
his horse quickly, and keeps cantering round the 
beast, which turns as the horse goes round him. 
After some time the poor beast becomes tired 
and careless about turning round any more, but 
either stands still or walks straight on ; then the 
swordsman, when close to the elephant's hind 
legs, drops off over the horse's tail, and with 
both hands gives the beast a cut a little above 

- ♦ The almost proverbial sagacity of the elephant is as mach 
celebrated in Abyssinia as in the other parts of the world which 
it inhabits ; and many are the stories related of its subtlety and 
"half-reasoning** faculties: indeed it seems to be considered b^ 
the natives as a specieia of superior being. — Editor, 


the heel. The great sinew^ which appears more 
like fat than sinew^ being cut^ the animal has 
no longer the power to stand, when they 
spear him or cut him with knives, as they 
choose. The teeth they take to their masters, 
who exchange them with the Mahomedans for 
articles brought from the sea, and the Shan* 
galla cut the flesh into strings and dry it for 

The Walkayt Shangalla, as well as the Tacazz^, 
are not quite so wooUy-headed, flat-nosed, and 
thick-lipped, as the Abawi Shangalla, beyond the 
Abawi ; neither are they so mild-tempered as the 
the former. After the sport was over, we mounted 
our mules, and rode towards home by the same 
road we came. When dark, we pitched our little 
camp under a large seggla tree, and had plenty of 
provisions and maize. 

Early in the morning we set out again, and 
about twelve arrived at the Gusmati's house at 
Arder-Rummet. Here we found all in a bustle as 
we had left it, getting ready their provisions for 
the camp. The Gusmati Woldi Comfu, though 
very civil to me, behaved diflferently to others, 
and had indeed an extremely sullen look. 

Walkayt is a country not much esteemed for 
its com and cattle ; the latter they bring from 
Tigr^, Temben, and other parts east of the Ta- 


t»xuky and exchange them for cotton-cloths, 
which are more numerous here than in other 
parts of Abyssinia, excepting Shir^. 

March I3th. I left Arder-Rummet with the 
army of the Gitsmati Woldi Comfu, our road 
being exactly the same as the one i had come 
with Fit-aurari Suddal. We encamped in a wild 
woody place within the boundaries of Waldubba. 
The next morning a great number of monks 
joined in our march from a church called Kudus 
Michael, as they wanted to see the Ras. One o^ 
these monks walked by the ^tde of my mule 
nearly all the road, and told me abominable Ues, 
which I pretended to believe, as the weak-^minded 
people really do. He said he was related to the 
ancient kings of the race of Meneleck, and that he 
had formerly been very wealthy, but, being quite 
averse from the pleasures and sins of earth, *^ I 
gave all/' said he, ^^ to the poor and turned 
monk, being a dingle [a virgin}. When I came 
to Waldubba, I joined in the club of monks, where 
we used to drink tsug and taller * once every 
month, but, thinking this too much indulgence 
for a sinful soul, I forsook them and turned 
bartone. On my first setting out, in the midst of 
the wilderness, living upon nothing but leaves 

* Tsug is maize» and taller sowa, in the Amhara language. 


and seed^ I found m3rself very weak and tired, 
when a large lion^ with a very long mane, eame 
towards me. God had given me courage not to 
fear, and he came, and rubbed his sides against 
me^ as if he wanted me to get upon his back, 
which I did, and he took me where he pleased. 
When he stopped, I alighted and gathered 
leaves, herbs, and roots, for my subsistence, 
while he went to kill something for himself. All 
the bartonea ride on lions,'' continued he, ^' as 
a look from us tames the wildest beasts." All 
this palaver I heard, and at the same time thought 
he deserved the whip I held in my hand, but 
dared not show the least sign of using it, as I 
wished to do. I was glad when I had got rid of 
him, for he bothered me so much about Jeru- 
salem that I was heartily tired, it being a place 
as I told him I had never seen, but he would not 
believe me. It became dark before we could reach 
Inchetkaub; we therefore encamped close to 
the church Abbagarva, about two miles firom 
the camp, and the next morning went into the 

The Gusmati Woldi Comfu having had about 
two hours' private conversation with the Ras, it 
was determined that he should return to his own 
country, and he set out the next day, for what 
reason no one knew. The Ras's army was more 


numerous than it had been in any war in which 
I had ever yet been engaged, though they have 
no regular mode of numbering their troops, either 
as regards the men or the chiefs. It was sup- 
posed that there were more than fifty thousand 
Tigre soldiers, and twenty thousand Amharas ; 
the latter commanded by Asgas Sedit and the 
Cannasmash Gabrew, brother to the Gusmarsh 
Ackly Marro. Gabrew is the son of the Can- 
nasmash Cofta; Marro is the son of Ackly, a 
Gavverry farmer, but bom of the same mother. 
Marro is the youngest, and, being braver than 
his brother Gabrew, soon drove him out of the 
district, which he had no right to do, Gabrew 
being the lawful heir; who fled for protection to 
Ras Welled Selass^, by whom he was well 
treated during his residence with him, and 
who had given him his niece Ozoro Sarin to 

The Ras had sent and received messages from 
Guxo, who was then on the borders of Lasta, and 
had driven Ras Ilo to his mountain Selahferre ; 
but, the last messenger not returning as soon as 
was expected, the drum was beat for all to be 
ready to quit Inchetkaub by the holyday Baler 
Mariam, the 2Ist of the month. 

March 17th. The Gusmati Woldi Comfii left 
our camp well and in good health, but the next 


day^ on his march, he died upon his mule so 
suddenly that he never uttered a word : his death 
caused a general cry in the camp, which is not 
common when an army is in the field. 

The beautiful Galla girl I have before men- 
tioned, given to the care of Abbuzer Welleta 
Tisral, was stolen, and taken by force from the 
Abbuzer's apartment, while she was attending 
upon the Ras at supper, by Shum Temben Sarin, 
nephew to the Ras. The old gentleman, on 
being made acquainted with the affair, sent for 
the girl, who by this time had been returned, and 
asked in what manner she had been taken from 
his premises. She said, '^ While I was sitting 
by myself in the wots bate^ [cook-house,] the 
Abbuzer having gone with all the women to 
carry the victuals to supper, a chief came in with 
several people, who caught hold of me, and car- 
ried me away to a tent; and, after passing the 
night with me, he sent me back with only one 
man, who ran off after he had come with me 
half-way. This nephew, though the Ras had 
shown him many favours, by forgiving him for 
rebellion, had done the same three times before 
with different women belonging to the Ras. The 
Ras desired the people about the premises not to 
talk about the matter to any one, adding that 
as his nephew had again shamed him it was 


impossible for him to put the fFodde Mammen 
(meaning son of a lewd woman) to deaths as he 

Next morning the Ras put the girl upon one of 
his own mules, and sent her, with all her attendants 
and five or six more of Ras Guebra's women, to 
Amba Hai with a guard, as far as the foot of the 
mountain, from which Subhart, the regular mes- 
senger to and from Ras Guebra, took them up to 
the mountain, with something similar to a flag of 
truce* Meanwhile the drum was beat to pro- 
claim that all districts and land of any description^ 
belonging to Shum Temben Sarlu, were taken 
from him by order of the Ras, and given, (naming 
the different portions) to Palambarus Toclu, 
Woldi Garva Quontarte, and Ito Musgrove of 
Basanate ; in consequence, the soldiers of Sarlu, 
knowing they should never get their pay, and 
seeing no source whence it could come, quitted 
him, and enlisted with the new chiefs of their 

Sarlu, ' by this transaction, became sensible 
of his bad conduct, and sent for me. I at first 
refused to comply, but his continual messen- 
gers and the former intimacy we had kept up, 
at last induced me to go and see him ; 1 therefore 
took an opportunity of paying him a visit un- 
known to the Ras. I found him sitting upon a 


sheepskin^ and indeed he looked very Bheepish 

himself. After the usual oompliments of the 

country, ^^ What false report is this t" sidd he; 

^^ can you not persuade the Ras not to give ear to 

my enemies t It is on his account that I have so 

many.'' I interrupted him, by saying, ^^ Sarlu, 

for God's sake hold yjour tongue, for I have little 

time to spend with you, but I will tell you what is 

witnessed against you;'' and, after repeating word 

for word what I had heard both the Galla girl 

and others tell the Ras in my presence, I said, 

^^ I myself should only tell you a lie if I said 1 do 

not believe you guilty of the crime laid to your 

charge." Upon which he began to tear off the 

faair from his temples, the same as he would have 

done if a relation had died that moment in his 

presence. He cried in a lamentable tone, ^^What 

an unlucky soul I am! I can do nothing but 

what is known directly." 1 answered, " You 

are very lucky, for if you were in the hands 

of any one else but Ras Welled Selass^ they 

would not have left you your head to tear, 

as you are now doing like a fool;" and upon 

this I left him. In the morning I sent every 

body out of the Ras's presence and told him 

the whole story, for fear my visit should be 

made known to him by some other person. 

He said, <^ Guebra M assea, his father, was 


iny youngest brother, by our father Kcffla 
Yasous^ though not by my mother Welleta 
Sian : before he died I visited him, when very 
ill, and he caused me to swear by the bones 
of his father, Kefla Yasous, that I would have 
the same affection for Sarlu, his son, as I wotdd 
have for Manassey's or Debbib's children, who 
were my brothers by one mother 5 after -such an 
oath, how can I hurt the Zear JFodde Mam- 

March 21st. The Arohara Fit-aurari Guebra 
Amlac and Chellica Comfu marched, and en- 
camped about eight miles from the towii. The 
Ras would not stir that day through respect to 
the Virgin Mary, it being her holyday. The 
drum was beat, as an injunction riot to bum or 
hurt any part of the town upon quitting it, under 
pain of death. 

Next day the Ras marched to the place where 
the Fit-aurari had been encamped, who had 
quitted and encamped a little farther on. Here 
the messenger of Ras Guxo arrived, and as it 
appeared the Ras had taken into consideration 
that if he entered Guxo's territories it would be 
the destruction of Lasta and Ras Ilo, his particular 
ally, it was settled that the Ras should do as 
he thought proper with the province of Sameni 
and all other districts belonging to Ras Guebra, 


which extended to the Ungarrau; that Guxo 
was to retire immediately from Lasta^ and return 
to Ras IIo all the cattle that had been taken from 
him by his army ; and that Ras Ilo should possess 
the districts in Daunt and Wadler belonging to 
the Gusmarsh Asserrat, then in chains upon the 
mountain Mokkina. This treaty being settled, 
agreeably to the wishes of all the chiefs except 
the Amhara Canuasmash Gabrew and Asgas Sedit, 
who were not put by it into possession of their 
former territories, the drummers beat throughout 
the country of Wogara Bellesart, to warn the in- 
habitants to bring in their tribute of cattle, gold, 
&c. before the expiration of three days, during 
which time the Ras remained on the mountain 
that forms the east side of the valley Shoader, 
a most beautiful country, belonging to Ozoro 
Setches, the Ras's first wife, daughter of the 
Gusmarsh Errocklis, brother to Ras Guebra. 
This district belonged to her by birth. Several 
springs and a beautiful stream run through the 
valley, the banks of which are covered with vines, 
peaches, limes, and other garden fruits 3 tringOyH 
favourite fruit, is also very plentiful. The drum 
had beat several times, to warn all persons not to 
enter the valley upon pain of being flogged round 
the camp, notwithstanding which the- wotaduy 
having got sight of the ripe peaches and grapes. 


before the Ras could be infonned of it^ the whole 
valley was swarming, as if with the devouring 
locust^ and in a few hours not a bunch of grapes 
nor a peach was to be seen, which greatly aggra- 
vated the Ras, as he had expected to have his 
table supplied with them every day during his 



Mr. Coffin's Narrative concladed — Ezpedition to collect the In* 

come of Wogara, &c. — Lofty Mountain of Limalms — ^The 

Biver Ungarraa^ Arrival at Gondar — The king's honsft— 

description of the town — Singing Women — Wine — Fish— 

Mr. Coffin receives a Visit from an old Servant — Jews — 

Priests — Chnich of Qaosqnom — ^Bnilding Materials— Painting 

— ^Retnm to Inchetkauh — ^Deputation of Priests sent by Guebra 

to intercede for hfm with the Ras — Intrigues of Guebra and 

Teda Gorgis— Mountain of Sankar Bar— Attacked and taken 

by the Ras — Slaughter of the enemy — Devastations of the 

conquerors — Mountain of Amba Hai, d^uebra's strong-hold— 

The government of Samen given to Guebra Michael — ^The 

Qama- — ^Interchange of presents between the Ras and Ras 

Guebra — ^Trial of an English cannon — Story of a Turk. 

April 1st. The Ras dispatched Fit-aarari Guebra 
Amlac and Chellica Comfu^ with the Amhara Can- 
nasmash Gabrew and Asgas Sedit^ to collect the 
income of^Wogara, Mariam Wor^ &c.^ and at 
the same time commanded them not let their men 
pass the Ungarran, under pain of having their 
commands taken from them. I obtained per- 
mission to accompany this exepedition^ and we 
marched to Wogara. The people offered re* 
sistance, but . soon found that they should have 
the worst, for at first they thought our army con- 
sisted of the Amhara Asgas Sedit and Gabrew 
only, but, upon hearing the cry of ^^ Goverser 


Badinmh /" they were struck with a panic and 
fled in all directions, while our troops plundered 
their villages. Next day, we began our march 
over Limalms, a very high mountain, but nothing 
to compare with Amba Hai, or the mountains 
about Sugemet : from the top of Limalms you 
can see all the plain country of Gojam^ and* 
round about to Emfras, and the mountains beyond 
the lake Tzana. This mountain is worse to go 
down the west side than it is to go up on the 
east; and, our party being very numerous, and in 
each other's way, we were about three hours 
before we got to the bottom : our march still lay 
over small hills, ascending and descending, and 
about four o'clock in the afternoon we came to 
Mariam Wor, a small river, in this part running 
over a rocky bottom and having steep rocks on 
each side. Here our Worari plundered the pre- 
mises of Palambarus Devlo, a general in the 
service of Guxo; there were many disputes 
between the Fit-aurari and Amhara, who had 
been the occasion of this act, and consequently 
of breaking the treaty with Guxo. The Amhara 
said, " How could Guxo have to do with it, or 
what business had a servant of his to reside in the 
territories of Ras Guebrat 

The news of our approach had many days past 
been in Gondar, and, before we left Inchetkaub, the 


king, Itsa Guarlu, had taken all his property and 

gone to the giddam island^ Carretta Wolletta, in 

the lake Tzana ; indeed all great people in office 

nnder Guxo had done the same^ fearing the 

tyranny of Tecla Gorgis^ and supposing that he 

would be again placed upon the throne. Next 

morning \^e marched to the Ungarrau, and about 

twelve o'clock encamped close by an old bridge, 

formerly built by the Portuguese in the reign of 

king Fasil, for the purpolse of crossing the river 

m the rainy season. It is but a poor building, 

formed of irregular-sized stones and mortar. I 

was told by an Amhara priest that there are 

several of these bridges, called Fasil Dilde ; this 

one over the upper Ungarrau, another over the 

lower Ungarrau, one over the Rib, one over the 

Moghetch, two over the Abawi, and one over the 

Kar ; this latter was never finished. Although 

these are at the present day considered as great 

works of antiquity by the Abyssinians, they would 

be thought nothing of in the meanest part of 


Here we had nothing but disturbances : the 
Cannasmash Gabrew and Asgas Sedit had en* 
^ted Gondar contrary to the orders of the Ras, 
and, knowing tfiey had nothing to lose by this . 
disobedience, they set-to and plundered all the 
premises of the Gusmarsh Marro of Dembea, 

234 GONDAB:^ 

who was the present commander in Gondar, Inil;.^ 
had gone with Gnxo's army against Ras Ilo ; vasA^ 
they likewise took the property of several oth«r% 
who^ they said^ were their enemies. The 11gr4 
troops wanted to do the same^ but several being 
severely punished by the Fit-aurari and Chellica 
Comfii^ this soon put a stop to their proceedings, 
I could only see a part of the east side of the 
town, where I was stationed, but from a hill about 
a quarter of a mile from our camp I could surrey 
the whole. The king's house, called Itsa Gamb^ 
(k^g's tower), stood in the middle upon a height, 
and looked more like a Portuguese church than a 
royal palace. The king does not live in it at 
present, nor has he for many years past; the 
doors are all broken down, and the whole is very 
much out of repair, though within the walls Itsa 
Guarlu had built several decent apartments, be- 
sides the one he lived in when here. According 
to the Abyssinian way of building, the town is 
scattered about over a vast tract of land, in 
general high with small hillocks ; every part takes 
its name from either the church, market, or people, 
that occupy the ground. Chegge Bate is a large 
piece of ground, spacious enough to build a town 
upon, from which no one, if even guilty of mUrder, 
can be taken, it being the residence of the chegge 
or head-bishop of Abyssinia ; the Abuna's premi"; 


tses have the same respect paid to them. The 

pabrt of the town occupied by Mahomedang^ 

though many OhristianB are intermixed with 

them^ is called Salem €ra. Ardervaohi is the 

name of the main public road, that leads to the 

king's house, where they hold the market ; the 

same road leads to the wock-gaviery [gold-market,] 

wliere they exchange gold for salt, and no one 

dare weigh the gold but the proper persons in 

office,, who are always silversmitha, and of whom 

I shall give an account in another pldce. If 

Gnndar were built in a regular manner after the 

mode of building in Europe, one dghth of the 

ground would be sufficient for its population. 

The houses are all thatched, but, on ac(;ount of 

the badness of the day, they are obliged to thatch 

Iheir walls likewise, to prevent their being washed 

down by the rain; while, in several parts of 

Abyssinia, the clay and stones that the walls 

are built with will resist the rains for a number of 

years. The whole town is lined with wanzatra 

trees, which hide the houses from the view; one 

part especially, and the only part I have been in, 

which was by night, is so thickly covered with 

those trees that you cannot see a house before 

you get within the trees that surround it. This 

part of the town goes by the name of Turkouch 

Minder, which name arose from the Sennaar troops 


having been quartered there, when in the servii 
of the king, Arlem Segued Yassu, (meaning ^^ 
world bows down to Yassu") or Yassu Tar] 
the great. ' 

In the day time our camp was full of thfr 
Amhara women, who used to join in gangs^ thcS 
girls in one and grown women in another, sin^n^ 
to the sound of a drum, which a woman beat 
at both ends, and carried slimg with a string 
about her neck. They sang the following song : 
^^ Give the Badinsah breeches, and he is a lion : 
where is the man that will dare to- hold his shield 
to him?*' — ^^ Give him breeches'* merely means 
when he is up and dressed he is ready, and no 
one dare face hun. I had many acquaintances 
here, who brought me as much wine and brandy 
as I and my servants could drink, and fine peaches 
and grapes were very plentiful, it being just the 
season for them. 

The wine is very good, but what we make in 
Enderta is much the same ; it will not keep more 
than three weeks, or a month, before it becomes 
sour, arising from the want of proper vessels to 
keep it in, as they have nothing better than 
earthen jars for the purpose, and these are 
not glazed within. I have kept wine the whole 
year round in English bottles. The brandy they 
make is very strong, and distilled through a i 

WINE. 237 

hollow cane^ called shambacco, from the husks 
and stones of the grapes, after the liquor is 
pressed from them. Great quantities come daily 
to town at this time of the year from Corder 
Emfras, the grape country. Grkpes are foimd in 
almost all parts of Abyssinia^ but no country 
produces so much as Emfras, owing to an ancient 
custom of the inhabitants following the wine 
business. Here tribute is paid to the king and 
the Abuna. Every doss of wine pays a jar yearly 
to the king, as they enter Gondar to the market, 
and every other article that enters the market for 
sale pays likewise a portion to the king's offi- 
cers 5 butter, pepper, greens of every kind, wood, 
com, and cattle, are exempt from duty. It is the 
same in all other capitals of Abyssinia, such as 
Adowa and Antklo. The rules of the custom- 
house, and duties upon merchants and merchan- 
dize, will be seen in a subsequent page. 

Fish are abundant, especially those called 
ambazzUy an ugly fish, though very good eating, 
being very fat, having scarcely any small bones, 
and being without scales like the eel ; its skin is 
very thick. There is another scaly and very 
good-looking fish, called barki^ but not so sweet 
as the foregoing, and fiill of small bones. This 
fish, as well as a smaller one, called lombe^ and 
which resembles the English gudgeon, are very 

238 FISH. 

good eating, and both are abundant in all the i%f 
vers of Abyssinia. The ambazza is also found si||| 
most of the large rivers. The inhabitants q$ 
Gondar make quanter of them, by drying th^Q 
with scarcely any salt, in which state they will 
keep a long time. In the month of August^ on 
the first of which begins the fast called Filsetti^^ 
Blessed Virgin, the youths go to Dembea^ with 
large sticks in their hands, and, the lake Tzana 
being at that time overflowed and the water 
muddy, they kill great quantities of this fish, 
which they find in the shoal and muddy water. 
My acquaintances tell me that one amola^ which 
is a piece of salt wx>rth the ninth part of a doUar, 
will buy enough ambazza for twenty families' 
suppers : at that season wine is also very chei^ ; 
one amola buys a large jar of about six gallons; 
from the beginning of March to the end of May, 
you may buy it at this price. At the same 
season you can buy three brulys of brandy, 
which is about three pints, wine measure^ for one 

My old servant^ whom I had discharged, in the 
beginning of last year^ paid me a visit, having 
heard of me from the townspeople, who visited 
our camp; he brought his two sons with him, 
each conducting a girl with a jar of wine. With 
the little money he had received from me as 

RAFTS. 239 

he liad put one of his Bons into a small 
le of business^ by trading from Gondar to 
; tbe other is a deacon belonging to the 
lurch. Quosquom. I strictly inquired of the 
ier about his manner or custom of tradings 
id what he dealt in; he told me that two dollars' 
worth of salt^ taken from Gondar^ would sell for 
a wakeah and a quarter of gold in Sarsar, and if he 
kept in good healthy and after paying all bersy 
places where they take toll for the passing of salt^ 
in a line of trade common in all parts of Abys- 
sinia^ he should often have a wakeah left clear upon 
his return to Gondar. During the rains, he said he 
went across the lake Tzana, upon a tonquor that 
carries gesho, [wood] &c. from Agow Mudda. The 
tonguor is a lai^e raft, with spars laid crosswise 
upon the top, and mats sewed upon them and 
round the edges, so that goods and people go 
from island to island, and across tbe lake, dry. 
The common rafts used for crossing the larger 
rivers in the rainy seasons, such as the Tacazz^ 
are a very dangerous contrivance; for it often hap- 
pens that the stream will break the raft, and those 
upon it are never seenor heard o! more. He told 
me that Sarsar was a large Shangalla town, the 
capital of the province; that its best buildings 
were not better than the worst in this place, being 
all small alike, and; m the same shape as tbe 


commonest huts about the towns in Abyssinia.] 
This town is upon the banks of the Abawi, asi 
near as Gondar is to the Ungarrau. When hei 
went all the way by land in the dry season, het 
said he had to cross the river Abawi three times^ 
as Sarsar lies upon the west bank of the river. 
Agow Mudda, Gesar, and Devarte, are also capital 
towns of the Shangalla. The Abawi Ras, or 
head of the Abawi, rises at Succola, passes 
through the lake Tzana, and, running again to 
the south, takes a turn round its head, and again 
pursues its course north ; in this manner it must 
be crossed three times going from Gondar to 
Sarsar, which it would be difficult to do in the 
rainy season. 

The Jews, at present, are not numerous in 
Gondar, as scarcely four hundred can be found in 
the place. They have a house of prayer at Der- 
fecher Keder Merret. 

The priests are numerous in Gondar; «very 
church maintains a great number by means of 
the land that belongs to it. This land, as in all 
parts of Abyssinia, is divided into reams, equal 
shares ; the head-priests have ten parts, and others 
of high rank have in proportion, some four, some 
two, &c. Quosquom is at present the mother 
church; it is well thatched, and the blue silk 
with which it is lined, and the large mirrors with 


which it was adorned^ by the Queen Eligge Mant- 
waub, the daughter of the Quonquosh^ are still 
in a perfect state. The priests are of opinion 
that their city is very grand^ and they even call 
it Cuttermer Arhar arrat Bate er Christian, 
Rieaning the city of forty- four churches. 

Quosquom wsis built by the aboTe-mentioned 
Yer Eligge Mantwaub^ daughter of the Quon* 
quosh^ who took the name from the mother 
of Benecuffa^ who was born and lived at Quora, 
where Benecuffa was also bom, whose daughter, 
Ozoro Hunkeyey, was the mother of Yer Eligge 
Mantwaub, and also bom at Quora, where she 
gave birth to Eligge Mantwaub. Yassu Tarlack, 
the husband of Eligge, was also bom in the 
neighbourhood of Quora; and the royal family 
and court; having removed to that place, were 
distinguished by the name of Quonquoab, and 
are called so to this day. After the death of i 
Yassu, Eligge became queen and very rich ; she 
was a very generous and splendid princess, was 
remarkably fond of white people, and. employed 
several Greeks and Armenians to build the church 
erf Quosquom. In inaking golden crowns, crosses, 
eups, &c., for the holy service and the adminis- 
tration of the sacrament, and likewise for siljk 
carpets, cushions, hangings, &c., to complete 
her church, they say she spent fifty thovisAnd 

VOL. I, M 


wakeahs of pure gold; though the edifice is of bo 
better materials than other buildings in tiie city. 
As she had no (me in her service who could make 
mortar, this churck is built with clay^ rough 
stones, wood, canes, and straw, which are the 
pxincipal materials for the first buildings in Aby s - 
unia. Yer Eligge Mantwaub had her churclibmlt 
in a w;ay to prevent fire from destroying it, after 
the manner of Abba Garimur, a church in Tlgre. 

The church, of an oblong square form, has a 
flat top, and within it is well plastered with the 
best clay ; it has a kind of portico. The outside 
is covered with thatch, to preserve the building 
from being washed down by the rams : a good 
thatch, done by persons who .profess the business 
in this country, will last for thirty or forty years 
without wanting repair. They do not thatch 
with straw, but Nature has provided them with a 
long strong wiry grass, which grows wild during 
the rains upon almost all the mountains ; it does 
not become bristly until it is fairly scorched by 
the sun, and when wet again becomes pliable: 
they call this grass, bate sar, [house-grass] . Quos-^ 
quom being the most esteemed church in Gondar 
at the present day, I have been induced to give a 
foHer account of it. 

Nearly one half of the forty-four churches of 
Gondar have fidlen down, and perhaps the reader 


will imagine that it would require a great deal of 
skilly labour, and expeniie, to rebuild them, sup- 
posing them to be nearly on a par with St. Paul's, 
or Westminster Abbey ; but, in order to prevent 
so erroneous an opinion, I shall. point out, in 
ar true and plain manner, the mode adopted, and 
the materials used, in building what is called 
a cathedral, in such capitals as Gondar and 
AntMo. If a church is to be built, every Chris- 
tian is ready to carry stones, elay, &c., gratis ; 
and when the king. Has, chief-priest, or any 
other individual, intends to build or repair a 
church, or to erect any large building for his own 
residence, he first buys, or takes from the poor 
country people for nothing, canes and grass ; 
far wood he will send to the people of the dis- 
tricts lying near the wood country, or where it 
is to be procured the best and easiest, and order 
them^ to bring it, till sufBicient . materials are 
coUected.for the purpose. To buy the whole of 
these materials fairly would not cost them more 
than eighty German crowns. I have been enabled 
to make with certainty the following ealculations 
from my own experience in building and paying 
fairly for every thing. Of the shambacco^ a hol- 
low cane, the material for covering, you can buy 
one thousand five hundred per dollar, and fifteen 
thousand for ten. dollars, which would be sufk- 
M 2 


dent for any building I have yet seen in the coun-^ 
try. SmaU/spars^ of different kinds of wood, may 
be bought at the rate of fifty per. dollar, .five hun- 
dred per ten dollars, and twenty dollars for wood of 
larger size, for door-ways, &c. ; one hundred and 
sixty boys' and girls' load of grass per dollar, one 
thousand six hundred per ten dollars. Four 
builders, if even Fellashers [Jews] would cost no 
more than one dollar each for six days, tmd 
twelve days* work, with four workmen, would 
finish any of their buildings. The thatcher would 
agree to complete the whole for four dollars, and 
the. remaining eighteen dollars would be sufficient 
to treat generously the men, women, boys, and 
girls, neighbours, and all who assisted in mixing 
the clay and carrying it and stones to the builders, 
besides sowa and taller. They in general mix 
tctjf straw with their clay, to make it hold toge- 
ther, as hair is used in mortar in Europe, Many 
pious Christians, who can afford it, will go to a 
great expense in ornamenting one of those 
churches within, with painting and articles made 
of gold and silver, and carpets and silks, which 
are very costly in this country. 

Their manner of . painting is, I think, very 
curious : it is as follows. . After plastering the 
wall and smoothing it with clay, they line it, 
when perfectly dry, with cotton cloth, which is 


stuck to the wall by means of a slimy substance 
made from cow's hide, or from the fruit of the tc^an- 
zatra. Over this cloth they lay a coat of white- 
yrash, made from chalk or lime-stone, first bomt, 
and then pounded and mixed with water^ adding 
a little 6f the aforesaid substance with which the 
cloths are stuck to the wall. They then draw 
the outUne of the picture with charcoal, and 
afterwards paint it with black paint, which th^y 
make by burning hemp-seed nearly to a cinder ; 
they then shade their painting, by strengthening 
or weakening their colour. They make no colours 
in the country, except a fine red, which they 
use for dyeing ivory, and this is made from a 
wood called zanen. All other paints they obtain 
dry from Arabia; these they grind and mix 
themselves, and always mix the yolks of eggs 
and gum-water in their paints of all colours. 
The paints are groimd on a smooth stone, with the 
yolks and gum-water, and tempered ^ith the same. 
The greatest parts of the inhabitants of Gondar 
differ from the Copts in their religion, although 
their patriarch was a Copt. No priest is al- 
lowed to have a ream in any parish of Gondar, 
unless the same professes the faith of the 

April 7th. We left Ungarrau, and marched 
to Mariam .Wor. Next day we marched over 


Limalms^ several of our people in the rear bein^ 
killed by the inhabitants of the plundfsred and 
burned villages of Wogara^ where we encamped 
for the night. Next day we marched to Shoader^ 
whence the Ras had marched to Inchetkaub; and 
on the day following we joined the Ras's ariny^ 
encamped without that town^ to which they had 
just set fire, and were waiting to see the best 
parts of Ras Guebra's premises consumed to the 
ground; these were reckoned the most ex- 
tensive buildings belonging to any governor in 

April 11th. As we had begun our march pur- 
posely for the destruction of Behader and Sie* 
gemet, a great number of priests, belonging to 
Waldubba and to the different churches of Samen^ 
met the Ras ; Ras Guebra having sent a message 
by them to intreat the Ras to forgive him id» 
misconduct, and he would wait upon him, with a 
stone slung about his neck, at Axum, as he had 
done on former occasions. Hie Ras, being per- 
suaded by the priests that it was a great sin to 
shed so much blood, and to ruin the comfort of 
so many thousands of poor people, merely to 
revenge himself for the treachery of one many 
gave way to their intreaties, and ordered the 
army to inarch by the same road we came into 
Samen, and appointed the day upon which Ras 


Guebra should amve at Axum. The same day a 
fine horse from Guxo, for his own ridings arrived 
as a present for the Ras, Guxo had obeyed the 
Ras*8 orders^ by returning all the cattle that were 
not killed by the Worari to Ras Ilo, and had put 
him again in possession of the districts^ agreed to 
in the treaty^ and had himself arrived at Deverer- 
tavor^ his capital, in Begemder. At this time 
niessengers arrived from Ras Guebra, telling the 
Rad that Guebra had declared to them that he 
had never consented to visit Ras Welled Sdlass^ at 
Axnm, with a stone about his neck, and that 
this story had been invented by the priests them- 

This intelligence enraged the Ras so much that 
he determined to return immediately, and ao* 
cordingly he dispatched the troops of Enderta, 
to fetch one of the pieces of cannon brought 
thither by Mn Salt. At the same time he had 
learned from some of Ras Guebra's favourite 
priests, that the king Tecla Gorgis had occasipned 
this last piece of deceit in Ras Guebra. It ap-^ 
peared that Tecla Gorgis > was vexed with the 
Ras for not having put him upon the throne, 
and had contrived to make more mischief by 
privately sending to Ras Guebra, and telling him 
he would be guilty of a great fdly to come to the 
Ras, who was so old and feeble that he could 


scarcely mount his mule without help; and, that 
after he had once got beyond the Tacazz^, he 
would be bound for his not attempting to 
return; moreover adding, he would, upon his 
(the king's) arrival at Axum, send and per- 
suade Subegadis to enter into the interior of 
Tigr^, The Ras, on learning this intrigue, kept 
all in his own. breast : and, upon the arrival 
of the gun and its carriage, with ammuni- 
tion, &c., which were carried separately, so 
many men to a wheel, and the same to every 
separate part belonging to the carriage and am- 
munition, the gun was slung to a long pole, 
and a great number of men carried it with great 
difficulty over the mountains, every chief in his 
turn taking charge of it day by day. The drum was 
beat to give notice to all those who had gone to 
their respective districts to bring a supply of 
provisions for the use of the amiy, while it 
should be without plunder, and to intimate that 
they must be in camp by Balei* Mariam. Tecla 
Gorgis endeavoured to persuade the Ras not 
to return, not knowing that he was fully ac- 
quainted with what he had practised against him^ 
and, finding his advice neglected, told the Ra3 
that he would return to Axum and there remain 
until the Ras should return from Samen to 
Enderta, where he would again meet him ; but 


the Ras told him that he could not spare Palam- 
barus Toclu^ for without him he could not be 
provided for. The king made several other 
excuses to get to Axum, but the old Ras at last 
ingisted upon his returning with him, and ordered 
kis chiefs to look strictly after him; and he would 
not even allow him to send his wife, Ozoro 
Cottser, to Axum or Waldubba, as he had before 

Next day, we left the banks of the Tacazz^, 
and marched to Salumte, a district belonging to 
Ito Guebra Kedan, and the drum had been beaten 
to forbid plundering, Guebra Kedan being the 
husband of Ozoro Sarlu, the Ras's niece. 

We marched next day for Behader. Ras Guebra 
had put people to work to stop the pass up the 
Hiountain, called Sankar Bar, which was afways 
impassable in the ascent, if a few muskets were 
placed at the top to defend the passage ; but he had 
now caused rocks to be broken down in the nar- 
row cuts, so that it had become a mere precipice, 
and the first salute we had was a whole volley of 
musketry, when several of the Fit-aurari's people 
were killed. We were about three miles in the 
rear of the Fit-aurari when we heard the report 
of these nmskets, which echoed along the moun- 
tains. The cry of ^^ Badinsah!" was soon 
heard from all quarters, and though the rocks 
M 5 


were almost perpendicular and so high that it 
appeared impossible to ascend them for nearly 
thi«e miles above the valley, yet the soldiers 
climbed up with the greatest agility and courage 
imaginable, though many were hurt, and I saw 
one fall from a great height, who broke his neck, 
but never dropped his spear or shield from bis 

In about an hour a great many were seen upon 
the top, at both sides of the mountain, and 
appeared like monkeys ; we could scarcely hear 
their shouts, but could perfectly see their actions, 
though they could not be seen from this distance 
by the troops of Ras Guebra, who were defending 
the pass against the Fit-aurari. I stood by the 
Ras, who had been obliged, as well as myself, to 
alight from his mule and climb up the rocks on 
our hands and feet, every now and then looking 
at the soldiers, and wondering how they ascended 
so nimbly. The Ras remarked, '* These Wojje- 
rats and Agows are devils ; not a man of Tigr^ 
could equal the worst of them for climbing up 
the rocks." — ^^ Ah," said one of the Ras's dug- 
gefys (a man who always walks by the side of his 
mule to give ease to his legs, or arms, which he 
puts upon his shoulder, being a Tigr^ man) ^' if 
we had been obliged, vto climb up the rocks to get 
at the bee-hives, for their honey, from our infancy. 


as the Wojjerats and Agows do, we should be as 
good cUmbers as they are *y' at which the old 
gentleman laughed, and kept looking first upon 
one side of the mountain, and then upon the 
other, watching the proceedings of the soldiers^ 
Mrho were running along the narrow ridges like 
Welsh goats. The firing was still kept up by 
the soldiers of Guebra defending the pass against 
the Fit-aurari, until they were entirely sur- 
Tounded, as they had never dreamt that it was 
possible to ascend by any other passage than the 
one they defended ; they had therefore kept no 
look-out upon any other quarter than the narrow 
passage. But, when they found themselves sur- 
rounded, they were struck with a sudden panic, 
and the confusion into which they fell was 
lamentable, as they plainly saw that their enemies 
were double their own number. Scarcely a man 
escaped, as the Wojjerats kill all that fall m 
their power, both old and young. The Agows, 
.if none of their own blood is spilt^^ wiU spare life, 
making those prisoners whom they take; but 
when one of their own party drops, they will 
revenge him even upon an infant. Hundreds of 
Ras Guebra's soldiers dropped their arms and 
descended the pass, to get into the Fit^aursuri's 
army for quarter, but numbers were killed in the 
attempt by the comrades of those who had been 


shot, I never saw any thing so cruel ; even the 
Ras pitied them, but he was too far in the rear 
to give orders to spare them. After the pass 
was cleared, it took us until dark to g^t tlirojigh 
it, and then we encamped upon th'en^^Oulitain 
close by. Here I had the misfortune to lose 
three asses, out of the five I had left ; and 
numbers of horses and mules, as well as asses, 
fell over the precipices and were dashed to 
atoms. ' - 

Next morning the Worari were off before day? 
light ; and before we had marched an hour we 
could see the smoke of Behader, to which the 
Worari had set fire, though a good ten miles 
from the spot where we had encamped. At 
twelve o'clock we encamped about a mile fironi 
the burning town, where we stopped five days, 
until every village in that part of the country 
was burned to the ground, and all the gtulgaudsy 
[pits of com] that were found were either taken 
or destroyed. We then marched to Sugernet, 
where we stopped ten days, and the com we 
found there was in such abundance, that we could 
not destroy it otherwise than by throwing it into 
the water, or down the precipices of the moun- 
tains, where it could not be got at any more. We 
tnarched hence to Salem Ga, a Mahomedan 
town, which the Ras had ordered not to be burnt. 


the inhabitants baying brought bini gold, silver, 
and clotbs; but the farmers belonging to Ras 
Guebra and his chiefs were plundered. 

We stopped at this place five days, and pro* 
ceeded to the foot of Amba Hai, and although the 
distance is considerable, we could see Arom below 
the piles of stones, like little spires, all along the 
edges of the mountain. This mountain is very 
large, the plain on the top being said to be as 
large as the plain of Gambela, in Ehderta, which 
is a good ^fteen miles in length, and contains a 
vast number of springs, plenty of grass for cattle, 
much cultivated land, and two large towns, 
besides many villages. Ras Guebra has a house 
and extensive premises upon it, and the only 
thing that makes it disagreeable is the cold. The 
snow was still lodged deep in many of the narrow 
ravines, in the high rocks, and all over the place 
of encampment, although it was the hottest 
month in the year. 

^ Here I .was ordered to place the gun upon its 
carriage, which I did; but I told the Ras it would 
be of no use unless we could approach nearer, 
we being a good three miles . and a half, in a 
straight line, from the gate of entrance, the only 
one to the mountain, and. which was to be fired at. 
With the Ras's telescope I could see Ras Guebra, 
surrounded by his soldiers, sitting in the sun. 


We stopped here several days^ during which 
messengers were going backward and forward^ 
and all the mischief Tecla Gorgis had been 
making was distinctly made known to the Ras 
by a worthy priest, belonging to Ras Guebra, 
who had kept a true account of what Teda had 
been advising his master Guebrato do. It appear- 
ed that Teda Gorgis had always had an aversion 
to the Ras and Bashaw Dingerze, a chief of Ras 
Michad's. The latter had given him a good 
whipping, when in Gondar, for getting upon his 
horse, and riding him, without his permission; 
and the Ras he disliked because he was attached 
to his brother Tecla Himanute, and despised him. 
The Ras did not show any kind of disrespect 
to the king, but on the contrary consulted him, as 
if in earnest, upon all occasions. Tecla, however, 
getting some knowledge that there were con- 
tinually messengers passing between Ras Guebra 
and Welled Selass^, began to persuade the latter 
to make an attack, and storm the mountain as he 
had done twice before. This the Ras never 
meant to do, knowing that it would be attended 
with the loss of the greatest and bravest part of 
his army, whose blood would lie upon his own 
head ; he having twice given the mountain up to 
Ras Guebra, when he might have .placed it in the 
hands of some other chief on whom he could rely. 

THE GAMA. 255 

Samen being a large province, and governed by 

a king's gamayit was agreed tbat Tecla Gorgis, 

the king, should give the gama to any one of the 

Ras's chiefs he chose, as governor of Samen; 

accordingly the king, knowing that the Ras had 

great esteem for Shum Temben Guebra Michael, 

and that he was related to the family of Gus- 

marsh Tusfu, Ras Guebra's father, choae him 

to be governor. The drum was therefore beat, 

and it was proclaimed that Guebra Michael was 

Gusmarsh of all Samen, by the orders of the king 

Tecla Gorgis, and the gama was given to him 

by the king himself. The gama is a stripe of 

silk stuff, about the width of a broad ribbon^ 

generally red and striped with some other colour, 

which is tied round the head of one or more of 

the king's servants, with a large silk rope round 

the neck, and hanging down the breast ; this is 

called quod. When a Ras is chosen, or his office 

renewed, twelve young boys are equipped and 

sent to him in this manner. Those intrusted in 

this affair carry also, in a small calebash, a lion 

with a cross painted upon white cloth. This is 

an ancient custom among the Abyssinians, and 

to this day they oblige the king, either Guarlu 

or Tecla Gorgis, to send them the gama every 

year at Mascal, the customary day, which is upon 

the 17th of September ; Guxo has it every year 


firom Guarlu, whom he keeps shut up, more like 
a prisoner at large than a king; and the Ras 
Bometunes orders Guarlu and sometimes Tecla 
Gorgis to send it to him. Gamas are also given to 
chiefs who have a whole province under their 

Messengers stiU kept going backward and for-, 
ward, and Ras Welled Selass^ sent his English 
double tent to Ras Guebra, as a present. Thia 
tent he esteemed very much, as it was brought, 
among other presents, by Mr. Salt. Ras Guebra 
sent in return several fptt sheep and some fresh 
butter, remarkable for the goodness of its 
quality and the best in this part of the coun-> 
try. Coming from Amba Hai, he also sent 
to request that the Ras would fire his mudfar 
[cannon] which he had heard so much talk about^ 
but at the same time begged he would do no 
harm with it ; adding that he thought he could 
not do a great deal, being at such a distance^ 
although he had heard that he could. The Ras 
complied with his request, and appointed the 
time, which was after dark next evening. I was 
ordered by the Ras to put in foar or five car- 
tridges, which I promised to do, but I did notj 
knowing, that if I said it would be too much, and 
perhaps burst the gun, the old gentleman would 
say that I was fearful ; as, in the time of Gusmati 


Woldi Gabriel^ a poor Turk was killed by giving 
way to such a foolish command from an Abys- 

The story of this poor fellow is as follows : — 

A Greeks now in Abyssinia, a silversmith and 

coppersmith by trade^ and a Turkish soldier, 

<:ame into the country together. God knows hcrw 

they found ^employment in the service of the 

Gusmati Woldi Gabriel: the silversmith was 

engaged in making .crowns and crosses^ and in 

casting bells for churches, &c., and the Turk was 

employed as a soldier ; but, the poor fellow not 

being quite so expert as the Abyssinians in 

climbing and running up and down the moun- 

tsdns, the Gusmati found fault with him, and 

told him he was not active enough to be a soldier 

in ' his service. Ismael, which was his . name, 

replied,' ^^ If you will make a cannon, I shall be 

of more use to you than a hundred men or even a 

thousand." — ^f Who can make it?" said the 

Gusmati. " Avostalla, the Greek," said the 

Turk ; when accordingly the Greek was sent for, 

and, by the persuasion of the Gusmati, consented 

to make the experiment, and orders were given 

to buy all the brass in the country. In the course 

of three months every thing was completed, and 

the gun was cast acordingly, and a carriage built 

such as the country workmen, under the direction 


of bmael, could make. He fired the camion at 
first with a sinall charge, which answered very 
well* This was done in the maricet-plaoe of 
Adowa^ where every body was afraid to be near 
but himself; and well it was they were so timid, 
for the Gusmati, who was sitting in front of his 
house upon the hill^ to witness the proceedings 
of Ismael, and who heard the explosion, sent 
word to him that he had been afraid to put enough 
powder in, and that the report was not loudier 
dian that of a musket. Ismael accordingly put 
in a lai^e charge, and a large piece of doth for 
waddings and, upon his firing the gun, it burst uito 
a number of pieces. The poor fellow's legs and 
arms were broken in several places, and his bowels 
cat out ; part of the carriage was found slung in 
the ]Bxge efarro-tree, opppsite the church, Kudmi 
Michael, nearly four hundred yards from the spot 
where the piece burst. Hadge Nuro, now head* 
carpenter to tiie Has, who assisted to make the 
carriage, told m^ that he was standing about filky 
yards off at the time, and witnessed the accident. 
Wilh this example before my eyes, I put into the 
gun no more than the usual charge of powder, 
and a single ball, and proceeded to fire it. I was 
at this time with the main army of the Ras, en- 
camped upon a very high mountain opposite to 
Amba Hai, where Ras Guebra had concentrated 


all bis forces. A deep valley lay between the 
two armies^ about three miles across in a direct 
Uzie^ in which our Fit-aurari^ or advanced guards 
w^as stationed^ so that on my firing the gun at the 
laaia gate, that defended the diificult pass into 
Amba Hai, the shot passed directly over the 
heads of that part of our army lying in the 

As it was not my wish to hit the gate, I had 
previously pointed the gun in such a manner as 
to make the ball take effect considerably beloHr 
the gate ; but the sensation it produced on both 
armies, from its luminous appearance in its 
passage, and the tremendous echoes that suc- 
ceeded among the mountains, was very great and 
decisive, as far as regarded the enemy. 

The next morning Ras Guebra sent some 
presents to the Ras, as well as to me ; requesting 
the Ras, at the same time, to permit me to visit 
him^ as he had several questions to ask me 
relative to the gun ; and he also wished me to 
instruct some of his men in the mode of putting 
up the tent sent to him two days before^ none of 
his own people being able to pitch it. The Ras, 
having his suspicions, replied, that though Guebra 
was welcome to the assistance of any one else in 
his army, yet, that he could not part with his 
white son, as he was accustomed to call me^ as he 


always wished to have him immediately about his 
own person. Having sent this message, the Ras 
desired me to dismount the gun, and get the 
different parts put up ready for carrjring again. 

May 24th. The holyday Ouner Takley Hima- 
nute. We marched, and descended into the valley 
of Sugemet ; the Ras kept the king close in his 
front, for fear he might desert and get to Wal- 
dubba, and there produce more mischief than 
ever, by sending messengers to Guxo, &c. Next 
day we marched to Moi Ga, where we stopped, 
it being Sunday, and the following day marched, to 
the Tacazz^, which we crossed on the 27th, and 
reached Overgalle, where we stopped a day, to 
settle the affairs of that district, as it belonged to 
Ras Guebra. 

June 1st. We marched to Agova: next day to 
Aterer Marts, and the next to Arde Darro. 


Pearce*s Journal resumed— His Return to the Camp and Recep- 
tion by the Raa — Cry for the Ras's brother — Pearce*s Grass 
taken by the King — Church of Chelicut — The Organ — Expe- 
dient for Scaring Grass-Stealers — Rage of the King — ^The 
Ras's Bu£foon — ^Buffoons kept by the Chiefs, and their Duties 
— ^Tbe King dines with the Ras — Person and Character of King 
Tecla Gox^s — ^His Treachery — His Departure for Axum— 
Hail-Storm — Devastations of Elephants. 

JuNB Srd, 1815. I set out to meet the Ras at 
Saharte, and in the evening I arrived at his 
csonp^ in the plain called Arde Darro. Every 
one^ as well as the Ras^ was glad to see me 
recovered and in perfect healthy continually sa- 
luting me with the common words used upon such 
meetings, after sickness, battle, or any danger, 
meaning, " Glory to God that brought you out \" 
As soon as I had alighted from my mule, I 
hastened to the tent of Mr. Coffiti, where I found 
him smoking his pipe, in good health and appa- 
rently comfortable. We then went to the Ras 
tc^ther ; he had been informed of the death of 
tny son before I entered, and, on seeing me, he 
uttered the customary words, used among all 
Abyssinians, when they meet with a Mend who 


has lately buried any of his family. ^^ Isgare 
Sennarkar /" [I hope God is great towards yoa]. 
These words are also used at the breakin^-up 
of a cry, to the relations of the deceased, who 
collect on a spot by themselves, while all those 
who are well-wishers come, one at a time, and 
repeat the above sentence, which is answered by 
thanks. It is ^a great affront, and always re« 
membered as a sign of hatred, if this ceremony 
should be neglected by any acquaintance. 

The Ras expressed much grief at the death of 
the boy, as he had several times sent for him and 
taken him into his favour. After I had been 
seated some time he asked me, among other 
questions, where Debbib was, and if I had been 
to see him lately. I said I had not; when 
he inquired, " Did he not come to cry for your 
boy V^ I said, he did not. " I am afrsdd,'' he con- 
tinued, ^^ something has happened to him? for be 
has not sent me any message for a long time^ und 
then he was very ill.'* However, the old gentle- 
man kept on playing at chess, which he often 
does while his supper is on the table, seldom 
rising quickly from the game unless his i^petile 
is keener than usual. He will even hear lawsuits 
when playing. At -supper he asked me several 
questions concerning the peace between Suber 
gadis and Giggar : he had already sent to take 


Asgas Giggar, but the latter, on hearing of the 
return of the Ras, had decamped and crossed the 
Tacazz^, by way of Mardier. 

Next mommg we marched, and encamped at 
Esta. The king remained in the same position 
that he had occupied before, with scarcely twenty 
people to attend upon him ; seeing there were no 
hopes of his ever prospering, the others had all 
deserted him, and taken other masters. Here 
the Ras, who had ordered the Tigr^ army to 
march by way of Temben to their respective 
districts, could not conceive why they had not 
obeyed his orders, and sent for Palambarus Toclu 
to inquire into the matter, who told him that the 
troops had all been dismissed, and that the chiefs 
were only going to Antitlo upon af&drs of their 
own. Aversaw, the governor of Ant&lo, and the 
Ras's nephew, and Dofter Casio, his head secre- 
tary and treasurer, came to meet him, but not a 
word was spoken about his brother Debbib, 
though the Ras really knew of his death. Per- 
ceiving that his people wished to keep it a secret 
till he arrived at Antklo, he took care not to 
betray his knowledge of it, or to show that he 
suspected any thing of the kind. Next morning 
the army marched into Antklo, and halted when 
they reached the market-place, where the priests 
can^e to meet the Ras as be entered the town. 


and told him of the death of his brother*. From 
that time the cries and the firing of muskets 
began in all parts of the town, and never did I 
see such downright folly. The multitude ,of 
people was so great that it was impossible to 
pass the streets, and the walls and tops of the 
houses were covered with persons of both sexes, 
young and old. It is the custom, in all parts of 
Abyssinia, for the women to cheer their chief, 
when passing, with a singular whining noise, 
especially when returning from war, but this day 
the noise was inexpressibly shocking. The Ras 
himself strove to do what he could to put an end 
to such folly, but to no purpose ; there was not 
an individual to be se^n but with his face torn, 
and scratched, and covered with blood. The Ras 
had never been guilty of this barbarous practice 
since I knew him, having heard from Mr. Salt 
and myself that it was a sin against Christianity. 
The cry was held three days. Safarling Guebra^ 
Abba, one of the most powerful chiefs on the 
frontiers of the Galla, died a few days before, 
and, as he was a great favourite with the Ras, 
the cry was united with that made for Ito 

As soon as the cry was over, the Ras gave me 
and Mr. CoflSn leave to go to Chelicut, where my 
wife had prepared a feast for us and our people. 


according to the custom of the country. All 
neighbours were invited, and kept up the feast 
for several days, in great glee. 

June 12th. The Ras and the king came to 
Chelicut, to spend the fast of the Apostles. The 
next morning the king visited his daughter, and 
rode round Chelicut to see the Ras's gardens and 
my house. His majesty particularly admired my 
meadow, the grass being very high at that time, 
which was the more remarkable as it was the dry 
season; he even took such a fancy to it, that he 
gave his'servauts orders to cut some of the grass 
daily for his horses' food while he remained at 
Chelicut. This did not please me, and I accord- 
ingly told him that no person should cut it, as 
the meadow belonged to me; upon which he 
sent and informed the Ras of the affair, and the 
Ras sent for me, and told me that the king would 
not remain at Chelicut long, and therefore, he 
begged me, in order to put an end to disputes, 
and gratify his majesty, to let one of his grass** 
cutters cut a load for him every day and no 
more. To this I willingly consented, and the Ras 
sent to the king, to inform him that the piece of 
ground on which the grass grew was given to 
Pearce on oath, and that of course neither he 
himself nor any one else could cut the grass, 
or ^ven go across the field, without Pes.rce's 

VOL. I. N 


consent; though^ in consideration of his majesty, 
the latter had consented to let him have a load 
every day for the use of his horses ; at this the 
king appeared to be a little out of humour. 

1 afterwards conducted the king to the head 
church, to show him the articles presented to the 
Ras by Mr. Salt; he expressed great surprise at the 
workmanship of the marble table, and the picture, 
saying, ^^ Ras Welled Selass^ has surpassed the 
ancient kings of Ethiopia for grandeur, and even 
brought the Feringees to gibber^ [tribute] then 
looking round to me, with his large eyes fixed 
stedfastly upon me, he said in a disdainful tone : 
** Pearce, do not the people of your country lose 
their heads if they deny their king any things as 
for example his own grass ?'* ^^ If it were his 
that was denied him,"' I replied, " certainly, but 
none but a madman would do that ; though, if it 
were not his own," I added, " he would pay the 
current price for it, as other people do." ^^ How,*^ 
said he, ^^ can he be king, if every blade of grass 
in the kingdom is not his V* " Yes," said I, " he 
can be a king for all that, for he is always a good 
Christian, and such a one knows that God gave 
all men the same right of living upon earthy 
which was made for man alone, and that he, as 
king, was to be a guard against taking one from 
another, and not to take from them himself." 


^^ You Feringees are cnnning dogs," said he, 

**^ Brave and true," replied I. The organ, which 

Mr. Coffin had just begun to turn, next took his 

attention ; he stood several minutes looking at it, 

at last went close to it, looked at the inside, and 

appeared quite lost in contemplation. " I hear 

it breathe,** said he, several times, and as, upon 

patting his ear close, he could hear a hiss now 

and then, occasioned by there being a small hole 

in the leather on one-side of the bellows, he cried 

out, '^ By Saint Michael, there is a snake in it ! 

I hear it plainly ;" and quickly drawing back, 

he exclaimed, " Such a thing which contains a 

devil cannot be fit for a church." Allicar Barhe, 

the high- priest, standing close by, said, ** Ganvar, 

I beg your pardon, it is an angel, not a devil ; our 

church has not suffered in any way since it came 

into it, but on the contrary has rather increased 

in prosperity. Ito Pearce has opened the whole 

before the carmart [congregation of priests] and 

all are of opinion that nothing but the wisdom 

of man, such as God gave unto Solomon, had 

made it ;" and he added, " Abuna Comfu told us 

that he saw one in the church of St. Paulos and 

Petros, in Rome, as large as twenty of this." 

After we had shown him every thing, he returned, 

greatly astonished at what he had seen, to his 

house, which was not far from mine. The man 



who looked after my meadow told me that se- 
veral of Itsa Tecla Gorgis's men had been there, 
and wanted to cut grass by force. ^^ But I cried 
out," he said, '* Ber Tecla AmlcLchj Ber Segar 
Jtmy' meaning. By the substance of Tecla, by 
the flesh of the king, you shall not cut it ! a 
mode they have of expressing resistance to op- 
pression ; yet even then they would scarcely let 
the grass alone. 

Next day I was informed that several loads had 
been stolen from the middle of the meadow 
during the night, which greatly vexed me and 
my servant, and I determined in consequence to 
plan some scheme of revenge. I told the Ras 
what had happened at supper-time, and the 
scheme we proposed highly pleased him, as he 
would have somethimg to make a laugh of at 
dinner next day, ' especially as Tottamasey, the 
Ras's clown, was to be there. So, after it was 
well dark, knowing that the Amhara are terribly 
frightened at fire-arms, we placed several of our 
men, at different distances, round the meadow, 
each with his musket well loaded with blank 
cartridges, and gave them directions to lie close 
in the high grass until they should hear the first 
one fire. We put out the lights in the house just 
as the moon was rising, to give the appearance of 
our being asleep, and we sat over the gateway 


of the house that looked towards the meadow. 

I and Mr. Coffin, with two or three who we knew 

could run well, took off our white cloths that 

we might not be seen, and put on skins and 

went to the part whiere we had observed nine or 

ten men cross the riyer, and go into the middle 

of the field. After we had got as near to- them 

as possible, and had seen them cutting away, 

without dreaming of what would happen, we let 

fiy, and it is impossible to describe the confusion 

into which the poor fellows were thrown. They 

dropped their cloths and skins, and ran as fast 

as possible to the opposite side of the meadow, 

where they had another gun or two fired at them, 

at which they ran some one way and some 

another, but, whichever way they went, they had 

a gun fired at them; three of them dropped down 

as if shot dead, through fear, the others cried out 

Serlassey ! Serlassey ! and crossed the river, and 

got clear of us, but three of their companions, 

their reaping-hooks, cloths, and skins, remained 

in our possession. These three we took prison- 

.ers to our house, and tied them fast together ; 

while those who had escaped ran to the king's 

house, quite naked, telling a most lamentable 

story to the servants, who were all awakened 

by their noise, and a cry was soon set up by 

the whole household for the three, whom. 


as they declared, Pearce aod his soUiers had 

The king, beii^ awakened by the cry, and being 
infonned of the matter, flew into ayiol^rt rag«s 
and sent to the Ras, dechuri&g that one of tiie 
men shot by the Feringee, though poor, ww 
related to him, and that he demanded blood for 
blood. The Ras, though he could scarcely leErain 
from laughing, pretended to be greatly concerned, 
and said, that at day-light he would enquire into 
the matter, adding, *^ If I send to fetch them now 
it will only make bad worse, for they havepow^r 
and shot Plough to shoot every man I have.'' 
The king, who had himself persuaded the gra^s- 
cutters to steal our grass, never lay down all th^ 
remainder of the night, swearing he would have 
life for life, otherwise he would raise the priests 
against the Ras. Meanwhile his men were 
getting quite intoxicated, and at sunrise I gave 
them their cloths, reaping-hooks, &c., and a good 
draught of brandy each, and sent them staggering 
away to their master, where they arrived just as 
he was pressing the Ras to attack my house. 
Their appearance incensed Tecla ten times worse 
than before, thinking he had been deprived of a 
night's rest, and given me and Mr. Coffin reason 
to think him our enemy. 

At dinner Tottamasey began by pretending he 


had reaUy seen the Amhara in their fright ; he 
put on such pitiable looks and dying postures, 
mimicking the Amhara who thought themselves 
dead when they fell, that the Ras could scarcely 
taste a morsel all the time for laughing at the 
buffoon and the numerous chiefs who were sitting 
about him with their mouths fiill, staring and 
affecting the motions of Tottamasey. This per- 
sonage is very old, but a remarkably lively man, 
and was the head harlequin to Ras Michael. The 
governors of the provinces commonly keep several 
persons of this kind, to divert them at feasts and 
upon holydays, and they have the income of a 
district allowed them for their maintenance. 
They are in general good poets, and run, or ride, 
before their chief when going from or to war, 
descanting in poetry, and in a loud voice, to the 
chief and his troops, upon the reward of bravery ; 
the redemption of the sins of a soldier, who dies 
in the presence of his master in the field of glory; 
the curse which God sends upon those who flinch 
or run away, and many such subjects, to keep up 
and stimulate the courage of the soldiers. These 
people are called in the Amhara language Ozmare, 
in Tigr^ Warta ; the enemy never kill them if 
taken in battle, any more than they do trum- 
peters and fifers, if Christians; but the Galla 
^ spare no one in war. 


The Bas remaiued. here until the conclusioB 
of the fast, which is on the 5th of July, on 
which day he invited the king to dine with 
him, as also on the 7th, which is the great 
holyday, called Hamley Selass^, or the anniver- 
sary of the Holy Trinity appearing to the Patri- 
arch Abraham before Sodom and Gomorrah were 
burnt. On this day the king dined with the Ras, 
who sat upon the carpets spread upon the ground; 
the king was seated upon the high sofa, and no 
person of the court was allowed to sit down, 
until the king had done eating, after which he 
pointed out such of the chiefs as should eat. i 
had been sitting with Mr. Co£Gln close behind the 
Ras, from the time the table was spread, but we 
had not tasted any thing, except what the Ras 
was pleased to cram now and then into our 
mouths. It is very common at the table of any 
chief in Abyssinia, for him to order the selaf^, 
that is the man or woman who is feeding him, to 
give food to those who are sitting near him ; but 
this is not the custom with Tecla Gorgis, who 
eats ravenously, and always has a man to hold a 
screen before his face, to hinder him from noticing 
any person ; indeed he is the only one I knew of 
so selfish a disposition. In his personal appear- 
ance he looks quite the reverse ; he is tall, and 
stout in proportion, always wears his hair long 


and plaited; hag large eyes^ a Roman nose, not 
much beard, and a very manly and expressive 
countenance, though he is a great coward. He 
has a dark shining skin, which is very singular, 
as the king Itsa Yohannes, and his wife, Ozoro 
Sancheviyer, Tecla's father and mother, were 
very fair for Abyssinians, and Tecla Hima- 
nute, his brother, was also very fair, while he, 
the youngest son, is as dark as mahogany. The 
Ras, who knew the whole family, often remarked 
this, and repeated ^^ Black without, and black 
within.'' The character of Tecla, through life, 
has been abominable : he is by all accounts sixty- 
six years of age, though he makes his age much 
less, as, in general, the Abyssinians dislike to be 
reckoned old when they really are so, and none 
either of the higher or lower classes know their 
own age exactly. They keep no account from 
the year, or month, in which they were born, 
but from the time that such a king, Ras, Gus- 
marsh, or governor of the province to which they 
belong, reigned or governed. Thus, when you 
ask any one how old he is^ he will tell you that 
he was bom in the reign of such a king, or Ras, 
&c., leaving you to find out how many years ago 
that may be, and the nearest account you can get 
from him is, that he was born in the beginning, 
middle, or end of their reign. 
N 6 


Tecla Gorgis is remarkably proud of hig per- 
son : though a little bald at the top of his head, 
he manages to have the hair, which is nearly 
a span long, so plaited and disposed a^ to hide 
the bald part. He always wears a silver or gold 
bodkin with a large head, called wolever, upon 
his forehead ; and round the instep, and below 
the ancle, a string of oval silver or gold beads, 
such as are worn by all women rich and poaty and 
which are called aloo. 

It may be here proper to give some account of 
this once great emperor's character, which I in- 
tend to draw according to what I have heard, not 
only by word of mouth from numbers, but also 
from his history at Axum, and my own observa- 
tions. I shall begin by stating, in plun EngUsh, 
that he is a great liar and a great miser, and 
from his childhood has been remarkable for his 
diangeable and deceitful temper, and utter dis* 
regard of his oath. When su^icious of any of 
his people, it was his habit to send privately to 
tiiem, telling them, whatever they were concerned 
in, to let him know all, as he himself had learnt 
somewhat of their proceedings frcnn people who 
were continually putting bad things into his 
bead ; the poor offenders, who took all this for 
troth, would beg his majesty to swear to foigive 
them, a custoniary practice in Abyssinia on such 


occasions. Tecla never hesitated about taking 
the oath) but would immediately kiss the cross 
when presented to him by the priest, who had 
the management of the sacred affair, and, as soon 
as he was gone firom his presence, would say to 
the officers who attended upon his person, ^^ See, 
I scrape firom my tongue, which made the oath 
and touched the cross, all it has uttered,'' and so 
saying he would put his tongue between his teeth, 
and^ drawing it in, would spit, and exclaim, 
** When the rebel comes, do your duty as I shall 
order you." In this manner he has brought his 
subjects even from the Galla, where they had 
fled for protection, fearing his treachery. Comfu 
Adam, governor of Begemder, and a near relation 
to the king, was trepanned in this manner, and 
had his tongue cut out on his arrival. The Gus- 
mati Woldi Gabriel, son of Has Michael, who 
was on terms of the greatest friendship with him, 
and had marched from Tigr^ to assist him against 
Ras Ilo and Marro, who had rebelled against 
Tecla, and almost driven him from Gondar, be- 
came, after conquering all Gojam and the neigh- 
bouring districts that had been concerned in the 
rebellion, an object of jealousy in the eyes of 
the king; who, after inventing his treacherous 
schemes, and swearing and releasing the rebels, 
who he well knew would be glad to ,take revenge 


on Woldi Gabriel^ sent for him, apparently in a 
friendly manner, and on his arrival at court said 
to him, ** Woldi Gabriel, I have made up my 
mind to go to Shoa, and take the Tigr^ army 
with me." This surprised the Gusmati, who 
imagined it to be a joke ; however, seeing the 
king in earnest, he represented to him that the 
Tigr^ troops were already much tired and num- 
bers of them sick, and that he had, on the con- 
clusion of the war, dismissed more than ten 
thousand to their respective districts, as he had 
promised him that he should return to Tigr^. 
He added, " I could never attempt to take my 
army through a country uihabited only by Pagans. 
What village would receive our lame and sick ? 
Would they not all be murdered by my own 
hands, if I were to commit such an act of folly t** 
The king answered, " Why do you consider the 
death of a fly?" "Fly," said Woldi Gabriel, 
" if my soldiers are but flies, I am naught but a 
large fly." " If you are no more than a fly," said 
the king, " you are not able to serve me." He 
immediately ordered the very rebels whom Woldi 
had conquered, to lay hold of him and bind him, 
and the whole of his troops were stripped of every 
thing, and some, in attempting to escape, were 
killed. Woldi Gabriel was kept in chains, until 
he brought the last article of value he possessed. 


to ransom himself^ while his brave troops had to 
find their way home, over the cold mountains of 
Samen, without either cloths or skins to cover 
their nakedness. 

Tecla Gorgis, though thought to be a very learned 

man in the Scriptures, sets the worst of examples 

to Christians, for, notwithstanding his professed 

religious principles, he is the greatest adulterer 

in existence. Though he keeps Ozoro Cottser 

and Ozoro Teschen as regular wives, he has, in 

general, when at home, ten or twelve other women 

in the same house, parted off like so many 

mules or horses. He pays no respect to beauty, 

nor scarcely to age, no matter whether it be a 

lady, a beggar, or a nun. He has a number 

of children in all parts of the country, some by 

women of the lowest class, many of whom are 

grown up and are great vagabonds. 

The Ras by this time had become tired of the 
king's conduct and company, and, fearing he 
might corrupt the morals of his daughter, on the 
9th July he ordered him to march for Axum, 
notwithstanding the rains which had begun, and 
which rendered the roads very bad, and also gave 
directions how the king should be provided for, 
allowing him a certain income to be administered 
to him by Palambarus Toclu, whom the Ras had 
secretly charged to keep a strict watch upon 


his motions, and not let him escape from Axum, 
though, mitil the conclusion of the rains, it w^ould 
be impossible for him to pass the Tacazz^ to 
Waldubba. I went with the Ras, who accom- 
panied him, as far as Arder Cola, and Mr. Coffin 
rode my horse, by desire of the king, who told 
him that he had heard a great deal of talk about it« 
In fact he was highly pleased, and declared it to 
be a better horse than the Ras's favourite Bulla. 
This horse was given to me by the Ras, at/ the 
last request of Mr. Salt, when taking his parting 
leave } although the Gusmarsh Liban, who had 
given it to the Ras, had made him promise to 
keep it for his own riding, and none but Mr. Salt 
could have prevailed upon him to break this pro- 
mise. On our taking leave of the king to retxirn, 
he said to me and Mr. Coffin, ^^ After the rains 
are over come and pay me a visit at Axum ; we 
shall some day or another be great friends." On 
our return the Ras seemed to be quite merry, 
and more lively than he had been for some days 
past, a sign that he was glad he had got rid 
of his troublesome guest. He remained at Cheli- 
cut, Bnd there kept his fast of fifteen days for the 
Blessed Virgin. 

August 19th. We had a very heavy fall of 
hail and rahi, which lasted an uncommonly long 
time. Unluckily for me I had two calves and 


fifty-three goats, belonging to me and Mr. Co£Ein, 

washed away by the flood, which, in return, filled 

our meadow with a quantity of large trees, that 

it had rooted out from the banks of the river. 

Several of these were left within twenty yards of 

my house, and the wood was sufficient to last us 

at least two years and a half or three years for 

our own use; but we distributed some among 

our neighbours. It is a lawdn Abyssinia that if 

Providence sends you any thing by a flood, such 

as a tree or piece of timber of any kind, even if it 

has been already cut, it belongs to the own^ of 

the field upon which it is found ; but if it be not 

found upon cultivated groimd, then the person 

who first finds it has a right to it. Until this day 

we had had very moderate rains, such as were 

required for the growth of the com, &c., indeed 

the com was in a very thriving state, but wanted 

a little more rain; but this last rain did more 

harm than good, for in our part the hail cut the 

young grass and almost destroyed it, and with it 

our future hopes of a good harvest. 

August 29th. The Ras went to Mucculla, 
where he kept his new year's day, on the 1st of 
September, and the holyday of Kudus Yohannis, 
Saint John's day. Here he remained until the 
11th, when he visited the spot of Abba Annemier, 
with all his troops, as is customary every year. 


September the 14th. We returned to Chelicut, 
and, on the 16th, after receiving my fat M ascal 
cow as usual, I and Mr. Coffin, as in other years, 
mustered all our people dressed in their warlike 
habit, and accompanied the Ras to Ant&lo. The 
Enderta troops were reviewed the same day, and 
luckily we were among them, as no musket-men 
were allowed to be present on the occasion, on 
account of the accidents that happened before, as 
I have already related. Nothing particular took 
place this Mascal between the Ras and his chiefs, 
excepting the affair of Asgas Giggar, who had 
gone into the service of Ras Guebra, and whose 
districts the Ras gave to Palambarus Toclu and 
to Ito Sanna. 

October the 10th. We went to Lama. Here we 
found, as the Ras had been previously informed, 
that the elephants and rhinoceroses had broken 
down the fences round the church, trampled all 
the vines and ruined the corn, which had been in 
g^eat perfection. It is well known in Shir^ and 
several other parts of Abyssinia, as well as here, 
where elephants frequent, that they pluck up the 
young corn and trample it, as if done on purpose 
and out of mischief. The poor monks had quitted 
the church and fled to the caves and mountains, 
but their last year's stock not being hurt, they 
had plenty of provisions, which they had taken 


care to carry with them to their new abode. The 
Ras thought it would be only folly to repair the 
fence again^ for it was certain the elephants 
would destroy it as fast as it was repaired. He 
therefore told the monks to do their best for the 
future and look out for themselves^ and soon left 
the place apd went to Mucculla. On our way 
the hunters killed numbers of partridges and 
giimea-fowl, and some wild hogs or boars. The 
whole country being at peace, the Ras remained 
quiet^ hearing lawsuits and playing at chess, his 
favourite pastime. 

This is perhaps a good opportunity to give 
some account of the manners, customs, &c. of 
the Abyssinians, acquired from my own long 
experience, and by carefully observing all classes. 


Chtracter, Maimers, and Customs, of the Abyssinians — ^Their 
Ckimplexion — Precarious nature of the Matrimonial tie — ^Mas- 
ters and Servants — Mechanics — Extraordinary Superstition 
respecting the Potters and workers in Iron — Supposed to have 
the Power of Transforming themselves into Hysenas — The 
Zackary — Persons possessed with Evil Spirits — Cure for that 
Disorder— Case of Pearce's Wife — Diseases — Treatment in 
Small-pox — ^Four Species of Venereal Complaint — Medicines 
— Scrophula — ^The Tape-worm — ^Wild Honey — ^Lying-in Wo- 
men — Ceremony of Christening — ^Whimsical Practice to pre- 
serve Children from dying — Marriage — ^Divorce — ^Law-suits — 

Thb Abyssinians vary much in their colour, some 
being very black, with nearly straight hair, others 
copper-coloured, and the hair not so straight, 
some much fairer with almost woolly hair^ and 
some of the same complexion, but straight-haired. 
They also vary much in their temper, and, as is 
the case in all countries and classes of people, 
they are mild, passionate, barbarous, compas 
sionate, true and false, proud and miserly, 
even in the same family. This can scarcely be 
otherwise, especially in towns governed by gover- 
nors and petty chiefs, where you may find wo- 
men the mothers of five, six, or more children ; 


the father d one an Amharay of another an Agow> 

of aoLOtfaer a Tigr^^ and of another a Galla. In-^ 

deecl^ I know many people ci quality who can 

give no account of their fathers; but this is most 

common among the lower classes of the people, 

and is occasioned by the continual alteration in 

the ^vemment. A man in a town or village 

may take a wife with whom he may wish to live 

all bis life, and, when he is perhaps getting com^ 

fortably settled, the governor whom he serves is 

driven from his office and another appointed in 

hi» stead. The new governor immediately seizes 

every person's land and property belonging to 

or in the service of the ex-governor, which he 

gives to one of his own soldiers or followers ; 

Ygbile the former owner is obliged to fly to ano«> 

ther district for refuge, leaving his wife and 

children, if he has any, in her native place. She 

will soon get another husband, while her last, if 

he prospers, finding another master, will also 

marry another wife. Soldiers quit their master's 

service as they please, and go from province to 

province, and from governor to governor, as they 

think proper, and for their advantage, whether' 

Amhara or Tigre, being quite regardless if it is 

to the most malicious enemy of their former mas- 

ter, as punishment is seldom inflicted for such 

offendes. Indeed, the wotada [soldiers of Abys- 


sinia] are seldom settled for many months toge- 
ther^ miless it be those who are m the service of 
a governor virho rules over the very village in 
which they were born. These in general culti- 
vate land, and live comfortably without paying the 
usual income of a peasant to government; though, 
were he to neglect one encampment or any mardi 
made by his governor, either in the service of his 
king, or Ras, or upon his own account, every 
thing that he has is seized, and then he must 
look out for another master in another district, 
or live in his native village or town as a pea- 

All their arms, such as spears, shields^ and 
knives, the soldiers find for themselves^ but 
matchlocks are the property of their masters ; so, 
when they wish to desert, they hang their gun 
up in their master's house and depart. Although 
there would not be the least chance of the mas- 
ter's recovering a gun if a soldier should take it 
and desert to an enemy, yet, I never knew any 
thing of the kind happen, not even when they 
have quitted their master's premises in a rage to 
go over to the enemy. They frequently return' 
after being some months away, and their master, 
in general, after swearing a few petty oaths not 
to allow them admittance, makes it up, and they 
enter with a large stone upon their necks, bowing 


with their foreheads to the ground, and again be- 
come as familiar with their master on the first 
day as they were the day they deserted him. In 
this manner each chief becomes acquainted with 
the others' actions, their way of living, their tem- 
pers, their family concerns, whether mean or 
splendid, and their disposition towards women. 
Indeed, they are all very particular in enquiring 
into the very closest connections of one another's 
families, especially when at enmity ; and these 
matters often become the subject of their talk 
when sitting over their bruly, or horn of maize. 

It is well knovm to numbers, as well as to my- 
self, that a chief will sometimes command a ser- 
vant m whom he has great confidence to desert 
him, and go and live with one with whom he is at 
enmity, purposely to become acquainted with all 
his connections ; and, to make it appear that the 
servant is really dismissed, his master, who has 
put him up to every thing that he wants him to 
do, will, upon the day appointed, affect to be in a 
great rage with him in the presence of numbers 
of bystanders, ordering him to be stripped of the 
small piece of cloth about his waist, the only 
thing they wear about them, and beaten, and 
turned out of his premises. The servant, hearing 
the order, drops his cloth and runs off naked, and 
soon after finds his way to the house of his mas- 


ter's enemy, who is highly pleased at the oppor- 
tunity of possessing a once trusty servant in 
adversity; and, upon seeing the servant naked 
and with the apparent marks of a whip, which he 
had inflicted upon himself by scratching upon his 
skin, feels sure of the quarrel having really hap- 
pened, and gives him a cloth, as is customary in 
all parts of Abyssinia, and throughout all classes 
of the inhabitants. The Abyssinians are very 
partial to new acquaintances, and in consequence 
the new-comer is the greatest balermal, or fa- 
vourite, in the family. Some of these rogues will 
remain a whole year even, and When they at last 
quit, they do not immediately return to their ori- 
ginal master^ but will keep about his premises at 
a distance for some time, begging every chief 
who visits the house to entreat their master to 
forgive them, which is done to prevent the chief 
whom they have been living With, and who per- 
haps may not reside at a great distance, from 
suspecting the scheme. 

The people who live in the larger sort of towns, 
and esjjecially the mechanics, in general lead the 
most undisturbed life, and are considered the best 
Christians. Hiose who work in silver and gold, 
in brass, or at the carpenters* trade, are esteemed 
as persons of high rank; but those who worl^ 
in iron or pottery are not allowed the privilege 


BUDAS. 287 

even of being in common society^ nor are they 
permitted to receive the sacrament as Christians. 
They are reckoned even by their nearest neigh- 
bours to have the supernatural power of changing 
themselves into hysenas^ or other beasts^ and 
upon that account every body dreads them. All 

* It is very difficult to trace the foundation of this singular 
saperstition, which is most implicitly believed by every Abys- 
sinian, Bjad which Mr. Coffin himself speaks of with a degree of 
seriousness that can scarcely be wondered at after the almost 
inexplicable facts that have come immediately under his own 
knowledge. These Budas, or workers in iron and pottery, are 
distingmshed, it appears, from other classes, by a peculiar gold 
ear-ring, which is worn by the whole race, and which kind of ring, 
Mr. Coffin declares, he has frequently seen in the ears of hyaenas 
that have been shot in traps or speared by himself and others ; 
but in what manner these ornaments came to be placed in so sin- 
gular a situation, Mr. Coffin, who has taken considerable pains 
to investigate the subject, has never been able to obtain the 
slightest clue to discover. Besides the power which it is sup- 
posed these Budas possess of transforming themselves, at will, 
into hyaenas and some other animals, though the former seems to 
be their favourite shape, many strange stories are told of the 
diseases they are able to inflict on their enemies through their 
evil eye ; and so fully convinced are the Abyssinians, that these 
unfortunate blacksmiths are in the habit of defrauding the grave 
of its dues, in their midnight mcuquerades, that no one will ven- 
ture to eat what is called quantevy or dried meat, in their houses ; 
though they have not the smallest repugnance to sit down with 
them to a repast of rata meaty where the killing of the animal 
before their eyes dissipates at once their former horrible illu- 

I shall here add one story respecting these Budas, related to 
me by Mr. Coffin, to the circumstances of which he may be 
said to have been nearly an eye-witness. It happened that 
a^yiong his servants he had hired one of these Budas, who, 
one evening, but when it Was perfect day-light, came to 

288 BUDAS. 


convulsions or hysteric disorders, which are as 
common in Abyssinia as in other parts of the 
world, are here attributed to the evil eye of these 
people. They are called by the Amhara Budoy 
and by the Tigr^ Tebbib. Many marvellous deeds 
done by them have been related to me by persons 

request his master to give him leave of absence till the morning. 
This request was immediately granted, and the yonng man took 
his leave ; but scarcely was Mr. Coffin's head turned to his other 
servants, when some of them called out, pointing in the direction 
the Buda had taken, " Look, look, he is turning himself into a 
hyaena!" Mr. Coffin instantly looked round, but though he cer- 
tainly did not witness the transformation, yet the young man had 
vanished, and he saw a large hysena running off at about a hun« 
dred paces distance. This happened in an open plain, without 
tree or bush to intercept the view. The young man returned in 
the morning, and was attacked by his companions on the subject 
of his change, which he rather affected to countenance than deny, 
according to the usmal practice of his brethren. 

From the latter circumstance, I should be inclined to ima> 
gine that the belief in the above superstitious notions is, from 
some motive or other, purposely fostered by the Budas them- 
selves. The trades they follow are some of the most lucrative in 
the country, and, as they are both exclusively in the hands of par- 
ticular families, in whom the right of exercising them descends 
from father to son, it appears probable that, in order to render 
themselves more secure from all chance of competition, they may 
wish to envelope themselves in darkness and mystery, and even 
place the ornaments above-mentioned in the ears either of the 
3^ung hysenas they may take, or the old ones they can entrap, and 
then dismiss them to the wilderness, with their newly acquired 
embellishments. I mentioned this idea to Mr. Coffin, who 
seemed to think the conjecture more than probable, and pro- 
mised on his return to the country to do every thing in his power 
to ascertain the fact. It is, however, but fair to own, that he 
says he never saw a very young hyaena with the ornaments in 
question.— JSfifti/or. 


of superior intelligence of both sexes^ which, how^ 
ever ridiculous, may serve to illustrate the su- 
perstitious character of the people in this part of 
the \^orld. Although these Budas are obliged to 
put up with reproaches and all idanner of scorn 
from other Christians, and even their nearest 
neighbours, yet they are partial to that religion, 
and^ though not allowed the sacrament, keep the 
whole of the fasts and Lents as strictly as any 
Christians in the country. There are, indeed, 
Mahometan and Jew Budas, and, as I have before 
said, all that work in iron and pottery are deemed 
such. What this whimsical notion sprang from I 
never could learn. Gojam is the province sup- 
posed to contain most of them. 

The Zackary are another extraordinary set of 
beings: though esteemed good Christians, I have 
myself seen them go roaring about the towns, 
making a most dreadful noise, and being appa- 
rently in great trouble, whipping themselves, and 
at times cutting their flesh with kniveg. These 
people are most numerous in the province of 
Tigr^, and they have a church which is resorted to 
by none but themselves; it is at no great distance 
from Axum, and is dedicated to their saint, Oun 
Arvel. They are very proud of styling them- 
selves descendants of Saint George. In their 
church Oun Arvel they pretend that a Ught burns 

VOL. I, o 


continually without the assistance of human aid. 
I have more than once watched an opportunity to 
blow this light out^but those in care of it were too 
attentive to their duty to let me succeed^ though I 
once e£Fected my purpose in pointing out a simi- 
lar imposition of these priests at Jummer-a-Ma- 
riam in Lasta. 

There is also a holy water at the church Oun 
Arvel, which is greatly esteemed for the cure of 
persons afflicted with evil spirits. This is a 
very wonderful disorder, which I cannot pass 
over in silence, though the reader may think it 
fabulous and ridiculous ; yet we have accounts of 
something of the same kind in the New Testament, 
which the priests and learned men of Abyssinia 
believe to be the same complaint. This complaint 
is called tigretier; it is more common among the 
women than among the men. The tigretier 
seizes the body as if with a violent fever, and 
from that turns to a lingering sickness, which 
reduces the patients to skeletons and often kills 
them, if the relations cannot procure the proper 
remedy. During this sickness their speech is 
changed to a kind of stuttering, which no one can 
understand but those afflicted with the same dis- 
order. When the relations find the malady to be 
the real tigretier^ they join together to defray 
the expenses of curing it ; the first remedy they 


in general attempt, is to procure the asaifltaace 
of a learned Dofter, who reada the Gospel of 
St. Jobn, and drenches the patient with cold 
water daily for the space of seven days — an ap- 
plication that very often proves fatal. The niost 
effectual cure, though far more expensive than 
the former, is as follows. The relations hire for 
a certain sum of money a band of trumpeters, 
drummers, and fifers, and buy a quantity of li- 
quor } then all the young men and women of the 
place assemble at the patient's house, to perform 
the following most extraordinary ceremony. 

I once was called in by a neighbour to see 
his wife, a very young woman, and of whom 
he was very fond, who had the misfortune to be 
alBSicted with this disorder; and the man being 
an old acquaintance of mine, and always a close 
comrade in the camp, I went every day, when at 
home, to see her, but I could not be of any ser* 
vice to her, though she never refused my medi- 
cines. At this time I could not understand a 
word she said, although she talked very freely, 
nor could any of her relations understand her. 
She could not bear the sight of a book or a priest, 
for at the sight of either she struggled, and was 
apparently seized with acute agony, and a flood 
of tears, like blood mingled with water, woidd 
pour down her face from her eyes. She had lain 


three months in this lingering state, living upon 
BO little that it seemed not enough to keep a hu- 
man body alive; at last her husband agreed to 
employ the usual remedy^ and, after preparing for 
the maintenance of the band, during the time it 
would take to effect the cure, he borrowed from 
all hb neighbours their silver ornaments, and 
loaded her legs, arms, and neck, with them. 

The evening that the band began to play, I 
seated myself close by her side as she lay upon 
the couch, and, about two minutes after the trum- 
pets had begun to sound, I observed her shoulders 
begin to move, and soon afterwards her head and 
breast, and in less than a quarter of an hour she 
sat upon her couch. The wild look she had^ though 
sometimes she smiled, made me draw off to a 
greater distance, being almost alarmed to see one 
nearly a skeleton move with such strength; her 
head, neck, shoulders, hands, and feet, all made a 
strong motion to the soimd of the music, and in 
this manner she went on by degrees until she 
stood up on her legs upon the floor. Afterwards 
she be^an to dance, and at times to jump about, 
and at last, as the music and noise of the singers 
increped, she often sprang three feet from the 
ground. When the niusio slackened, she would 
appear quite out of temper, but, when it became 
louder, she would smile and be delighted, During 


tMs exercise she never shewed the least symp- 
tom of being tired, though the musicians were 
thoroughly exhausted; and when they stopped to 
refresh themselves by drinking and resting a 
littl^ she would discover signs of discontent. 

Next day, according to the custom in the 
care of this disorder, she was taken into the mar- 
ket-place, where several jars of maize or tstig 
were set in order by the relations, to give drink 
to the musicians and dancers. When the crowd 
had assembled, and the music was ready, she was 
brought forth and began to dance and throw her- 
self into the maddest postures imaginable, and in 
this manner she kept on the whole day. Towards 
evening, she began to let fall her silver ornaments 
from her neck, arms, and legs, one at a time, so 
that in the course of three hours she was stripped 
of every article. A relation continually kept going 
after her as she danced, to pick up the ornaments, 
and afterwards delivered them to the owners from 
whom they were borrowed. As the sun went 
down, she made a start with such svdftness, that 
the fastest runner could not come up with her, 
and, when at the distance of about two hundred 
yards, she dropped on a sudden, as if shot. Soon 
afterwards, a young man, on coming up with her, 
fired a matchlock over her body, and struck her 
upon the back with the broad side of his large 


knife^ and asked her name^ to which she answered 
as when in her common senses^ a sure proof of 
her being cnred ; for, during the time of this ma- 
lady^ those afflicted with it never answer to their 
Christian name. She was now taken up in a very 
weak condition and carried home, and a priest 
came and baptized her again in the name of the 
Father, Son, and Holy Ghoist, which ceremony 
concluded her cure. Some are taken in this man- 
ner to the market-place for many days before 
they can be cured, and it sometimes happens that 
they cannot be cured at all. I have seen them in 
these fits dance with a brufyy or bottle of maize, 
upon their heads, without spilling the liquor, or 
letting the bottle fall, although they have put 
themselves into the most extravagant postures* 

I could not have ventured to write this from 
hearsay, nor could I conceive it possible, imtil I 
was obliged to put this remedy in practice upon 
my own wife, who was seized with the same 
disorder, and then I was compelled to have a still 
nearer view of this strange disorder*. I at first 

* I am mach indined to believe» from what I have leamt from 
Mr. Coffin as well as from the whole account itself, that, had 
Pearce persisted in his first remedy, he would have found it per- 
fectly efficacious. It seems the Abyssinian ladies are remarkably 
fond. of decking themselves out with trinkets and finery of aU 
tfbrts, and of making themselves of consequence; and as, on the 
occasions in question, a lady's degree of importance is weighed by 


thought that a whip would be of some service, 
and' one day attempted a few strokes, when un- 
noticed by any person, we being by ourselves, and 
I having a strong suspicion that this ailment 
sprang from the weak minds of women, who were 
encouraged in it for the sake of the grandeur, rich 
dress, and music, which accompany the cure. 
But how much was I surprised, the moment I 
struck a light blow, thinking to do good, to find 
that she became like a corpse, and even the joints 
of her fingers became so stiff that I could not 
straighten them; indeed I really thought that sh^ 
was dead, and immediately made it known to the 
people in the house that she had fainted, but did 
not tell them the cause, upon which they imme- 
diately brought music, which I had for many 

the Talue and number of the ornaments and attendants, famished 
by her relatives and friends, I £Buacy the source of this pretended 
complaint arises &om causes somewhat allied to those, which not 
unfrequently induce our school-boys and young ladies to try the 
patience of their medical attendants and friends, by shamming 
anomalous disorders. Similar practices are by no means uncom-;^ 
mon among our soldiers, and I have heard many of our army 
surgeons declare, that it often requires more sagacity to detect 
what are termed maUngeren than to discover the causes of a real 
disease. Poor Pearce, I have heard, was not very fortunate in 
his domestic partner, and as the whole account of her attack 
wears a very suspicious aspect, there appears to be little doubt 
that a perseverance in his simple remedy would have afforded a 
speedy cure ; more especially as, I am told by Mr. Coffin, he has 
himself known many instances in Abyssinia, where the same 
remedy has been applied with singular success. — Editor, 

296 FEVERS. 

days denied them, and which soon revived her ;* 
and I then left the house to her relations to cure 
her at my expense, in the manner I have before 
mentioned, though it took a much longer time to 
cure my wife than the woman I have just given 
an account of. One day I went privately, with a 
companion, to see my wife dance, and kept at a 
short distance, as I was ashamed to go near the 
crowd. On looking stedfastly upon her, while 
dancing or jumping, more like a deer than a 
human being, I said that it certainly was not my 
wife ; at which my companion burst into a fit of 
laughter, from which he could scarcely refrain all 
the way home. Men are sometimes afflicted 
with this dreadful disorder, but not frequently. 
Among the Amhara andGalla it is not so common. 
Other natural diseases, except the small-pox 
and measles, are not commonly dangerous. Fevers 
are very rare except in the kolla [low country] 
at the commencement of the rains. The super- 
stitious people imagine that fevers arise from a 
blow of an evil spirit. If the patient survives 
seven days he is thought safe. They call a fever 
muttartf and the only remedy they in general use 
for it is the juice of some cooling leaves, ground 
and rubbed over the temples of the patient ; and 
they fasten different roots and herbs about the 
head and body, as also written charms, which 


however are not employed for the cure of thin 
disorder in particular, but worn by every body, 
sick or well, high or low. Colds and sore eyes 
are very conunon, but not dangerous^ and are 
caught in general through personal neglect ; the 
Abyssinians sleeping in the sun by day, and 
being exposed to the heavy dews by night, with 
scarcely a rag to cover them. The leprosy is 
very common among the lower class, especially 
in the provinces to the southward, where I have 
seen thousands who had lost their fingers and 
toes, and who had their bodies covered all over 
with large white spots. They caD the leprosy 
duhe segar; and those afflicted with this dis- 
ease are not only great beggars, but also thieves 
and very insolent; they will even abuse the 
governor of the district they are in, as he passes, 
though he never takes any notice of them, agree- 
ably to the custom of the couutry. 

The small-pox, as I have before mentioned, is the 
most destructive complaint known in Abyssinia. 
Upon the approach of that disorder, the people in 
the country and villages collect their children 
and those who have not had it into one gang, for 
the purpose of having them inoculated. Every 
one carries a piece of salt, or a measure of corn : 
they then march together to the neighbouring 
town, or wherever the disorder may have made 
o 6 


its appearance. Here they pick out a person, 
who is thickest covered with sores, and procure a 
skilful person or Dofier, who takes a quantity of 
matter from him into an egg-shell, and then by 
turns he cuts a small cross with a razor in the arm, 
puts in it a little of the matter, and afterwards 
binds it up with a piece of rag. The salt and 
other articles which they c^rry are given to the 
Dofiter, and he divides it with the person from 
whom the matter is taken. After this operation 
they all return home, singing and shouting praises 
to God, in a joyful manner, and beseeching him 
to preserve them from death during the time of 
their disease. From the time the fever takes 
them, they are put into a close hut or house, 
where not a breath of air, and if possible not the 
least light, can enter. Here they are laid naked 
upon river- sand, or wood-ashes, the latter being 
preferred in general when they are covered thick* 
est. Neither male dogs, male cats, cocks, nor 
any other male animals, are suffered to remain 
about the house. Their superstition causes them 
even to affirm for a truth that, in all cases of 
seicual intercourse, either on the part of human 
beings or animals, in or about the premises where 
the patient lies, the devil brings the shadow of 
the sin upon them and kills them for his own. 
When a horse or mule is castrated, the animal is 


not allowed to be seen by any visiter until the 
sore is healed^ from a similar superstition. 

A disease contracted from sexual intercourse 
is very common throughout the country, and often 
is the ruin of many people from want of proper 
medicine. It is never kept a secret, but, as soon 
as it is discovered, those afflicted make it known 
to all their friends and neighbours, and thus it 
becomes public throughout the district in which 
they live ; and every friend will pay a visit, and, if 
the disorder has fallen upon some man or woman 
of consequence, they will often meet upon a day 
appointed, and keep a cry at the house, as when 
a person dies. This disease is called in the Am- 
hara language kitchiny in Tigri ^ntarta ; it is 
quite different from the disease that exists in 
Europe. Here are four different kinds, viz. 
armarzesy bersine^ gulluj and negus fintarta*. 
Armarzes, or the elephant's disease, breaks into 
large sores, in general under the arm-pits, the 
neck, and mouth, and very much affects the throat. 
Bersine, which takes its name from a small brown 
pea which it resembles, in general covers the body, 
arms, and thighs, as well as the face, especially 
the lips, with large pimples full of pus. Gulla 
takes its name from its generally breaking out 

* Probably, from the deBcription given, none of these diseases 
are of the nature of the one to which Pearce alludes.^^oftVor. 


under the arm-pits, like a large fungus, which 
continually keeps raw. The negus fintarta^ 
which signifies the king's disease, seldom shews 
itself outwardly, but occasions rheumatic pains, 
at times giving rise to large swellings in the 
internal parts of the body, and also affects the head 
very much, and frequently destroys the bones. 
Many are ruined by this dreadful disease ; for, 
when the swellings burst, they commonly spread 
and eat away the flesh in a horrible manner. 
To cure this disease they take strong purgatives^ 
bulbs, roots, herbs, flowers, and barks ; the most 
esteemed of these is called by the Tigr^ abba- 
chugo, a very small bulb, resembling that of garlic, 
only bearing a reddish-brown skin, having a 
strong and very sickly taste ; this also kills the 
tape-worm. The wood and root of a tree called 
tumbackj a very strong purgative, are also used 
on these occasions. A small herb, mixed with 
milk, called induckduckf produces the like effect. 
I may add the flower of cusho*^ in Amhara, in 

* The medicine called ctuhoy so efficacious in the cure of tape- 
worm, was first made known to Europeans by Mr. Bruce, though, 
according to Dr. Madden, a French physician has subsequently 
reaped the honour of the discovery. The cutho is a very powerful 
medicine, and of great service in the cure of the tape-worm, 
though Mr. Coffin considers it not so effectual as the sherma in 
cases of this nature. Besides the above medicines, many others 
are found in the country, some of which are said to possess very 


Tigr^ hobbe, and also shennay the bark of a tree, 
vrhich are both strong purgatives, and much 
celebrated for killing the tape-worm. 

They have numbers of other medicinal roots 

and herbs, but the above are the most common ; 

such as can afford it take another remedy to cure 

some of the above disorders ; it is a medicine 

brought into this country by the Mahomedans, 

who say that it comes from Morocco ; it is called 

tvishwar. It resembles small brown sticks, or 

dried stalks of a plant, which, being pounded and 

made into bolusses, the patient swallows six at a 

time, morning and evening, and is then put into a 

dark place, where he is laid between two large 

fires, allowed to eat nothing but a cake made of 

wheat flour without salt, and obliged to drink 

several large horns of honey and water every day. 

The sudorific effect of this mode of treatment is 

beyond conception. After the first seven days 

the patient leaves off taking the bolusses, but 

still continues to inhale the steam through a 

hollow cane from a pot on the fire in which some 

of this medicine is boiling. At the expiration of 

fourteen days, he is allowed a little meat, and his 

diet is increased by degrees, for forty days, after 

powerful and smgtdar properties; an account of which, how- 
ever, would be better inserted in a medical work than in this 
Journal. — Editor. 

802 8CR0PHULA. 

which he is allowed the air^ and gradually goes 
about until he has entirely recoyered his strength ; 
but many die under the remedy. 

MesherOy which is a sort of scrophula, is also 
another disease very common in the country. The 
Abyssinians conceive this disorder to be con- 
nected with the above^ and they apply the same 
kind of medicine, though I have known some 
who succeed in curing it in a different manner^ 
of which I was once an eye-witness. The ope- 
rator took a razor and made two deep cuts in 
the shape of a cross upon the swelling, then put 
in his little finger, and very soon brought to the 
surface a kernel about the size of a common nut : 
this he disengaged from the flesh with his razor^ 
and then bound up the wound with some pounded 
herbs, which he had prepared for the purpose. 
Observing that he took great care of the kernel^ I 
be^ed him to tell me what he wanted it for ; 
when he told me, that after it had become per- 
fectly dry, by being kept for several days in the 
sun, he should make a powder of it that would 
prevent any person from catching the same dis- 
temper. This powder, he said, was to be worn 
in a written charm about the neck of those who 
chose to pay him for the application. To satisfy 
my curiosity farther, he cut the kernel in two, to 
shew me what it contained, which I found to be 


small sUmy kernels : he remarked that those were 
tbie roots> which were just begianing to grow. 

That dreadful complaint^ the tape-worm, which 

is very frequent in Abyssinia, I cannot account 

for ; formerly I had an opinion that it was through 

the inhabitants eating raw flesh, but that cannot 

l>e the case, because I have seen a guinea-fowl 

and several deer, that have been killed with these 

\rorm8 in their bowels : domestic animals, ht 

times, are also afflicted with them. My opinion 

at present is, that it is produced by the climate 

and the water. If the Abyssinians were not 

blessed with the plant called ct^Ao, which is a 

certain cure for this dreadful disease, as I have 

before mentioned, bad indeed would be the 

consequence. I myself was not troubled above 

four times with this disease, during my stay iu 

the country ; but my companion, Mr. Coffin, was 

under the disagreeable necessity of taking this 

medicine every six weeks or two months, like 

every other individual of the country. 

Sore throats are common in the beginning of th^ 
rains, the cure for which is a wild honey, called 
tasmar by the Amhara; this honey is peculiar to 
the kolla, or low country j it is very thin, very 
dear, and of a reddish colour, with a particularly 
fine flavour : it is in general found in rocky 
ground, and the insect that produces it has a 



long narrow body^ of a yellowish colour, with 
wings about the size of a black ant. This liquor 
is squeezed from a spongy substance, which is 
quite different from the wax of bees. On my 
quitting the country I brought a few bottles in a 
sanga*8 horn, for a specimen, which I gave to 
Mr. Salt. This honey, the priests of the country 
affirm to be the wild honey that St. John the 
Baptist found in the wilderness, and they use it 
in several complaints as a medicine. 

The Abyssinians have no established mid- 
wifery: when a woman is taken in labour, or 
gives signs of being near the hour of delivery, 
her female neighbours go to her assistance. 
Any female who happens to be present will take 
a razor and divide the umbilical cord, though the 
mother is frequently known to perform that ope- 
ration herself, to be better satisfied of its not 
being left too long or too short. It is the custom 
of the country that no man should enter the door 
of a lying-in woman, till seven days after child- 
birth, though at times necessity obliges them to the 
contrary ; on that day the neighbouring women 
assemble together, at the house, and take the 
bed-linen to the river to wash, marching together 
in a gang, and singing and calling on God to 
prosper the child. On this day they eat gar in 
the Tigr^, or gumfo in the Amhara, and drink 


sofwaj as on the day of child-birth* The former 
is a mash made of wheat-flour^ water, and butter \ 
the latter the common beer of the coimtry, a 
fermented liquor made indiscriminately from dif- 
ferent kinds of grain, but in general of course from 
that most common in the part of the country 
where they reside. This feast is called gella. 
On the eighth day the child is circumcised ; a 
woman performs the operation, and a white fowl 
is killed and cooked at the ceremony, and given 
to the woman, in recompense for her skill ; no 
particular ceremony or assemblage of Mends 
being held as among the Mahomedans. The 
females undergo a similar operation. A male 
child is christened at the age of forty days, but 
the female is not christened till the eightieth 

Their manner of christening is somewhat sin- 
gular. A man does not stand godfather for a 
girl, nor a woman for a boy, and the parents 
always look out for a person most able to make 
some present to their child. The parent or priest 
gives it the name, the godfather or godmother 
holding it in a piece of cloth, which they destine 
as a present to their god-son or god-daughter. 
Some, who can afford it, will present the child to 
the priest, to be baptized, in a very valuable piece 
of cloth. During the first part of the ceremony, the 


godfather or godmother holds the child^ and pro- 
mises to do his or her best for it. During the whole 
ceremony, the priest swings to and fro a brass vase 
suspended by four brass chains^ with small bells 
attached to it, in which frankincense is kept 
burning, and the fiimes of which are sent forth 
during the whole of the ceremony. Before the 
priest places the child iii the new cloth held by 
the godfather, he dips it ia a large pan of water, 
and then takes a small wooden cross, and, be- 
ginning on the forehead, says, ^^I baptize thee in 
the name of the Father, tiie Son, and the Holy 
Ghost." After repeating this, he crosses every 
joint of the body, behind and before ; he then 
takes a feather, dipped in a certain oil, which 
is obtained from Egjrpt, and is called ntetron, 
repeating this formula, '^ In the name of the 
Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, I janoint 
thee with the holy oil, as a token that thou 
hast entered into Christ's flock." All this having 
been performed in the church-yard, near th^ 
entrance- gate, the mother takes the child into the 
church, and there waits till the sacrament is 
administered to the people, as well as to the 
child ; some ambashay cakes of bread, and beer, 
are the usual acknowledgments made to the 
priests by the parents on these occasions, except 
in the case of people of quality, who in general 


invite all the priests of the church in which their 
diild is christened, and give them a hearty feast. 

I cannot help adverting to a practice which is 
not nnfrequent, but which might appear fabulous 
to any one who had not witnessed it. When a 
woman has had one, two, or more children, and 
they have all died, she will, ia hopes of saving 
the life of imother just oom, cut off a piece firom 
the tip of the left ear, roll it up in a piece of 
bread, and swallow it; and others will keep one 
nde only of the head shaved until the child is 
grown up. For some time I was at a loss to 
conjecture the reason why a number of grown 
people of my acquaintance had one ear cut ; and, 
when told the truth, I could scarcely believe it, 
till I went into the house of a neighbour, though 
contrary to the custom, purposely to see the ope* 
ration. An old woman cut off the tip of the ear, 
and put it into a bit of cold cooked victuals, 
called skerro, when the mother of the infant 
opened her mouth to receive it, and swallowed it, 
pronouncing the words, ^^ In the name of the 
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." They have 
recourse to many other superstitious and whim- 
sical practices to prevent children from dying. 

I shall give an accoimt of their marriages, but 
as the Amhara and Tigr^ differ in some points, 
my narration may be considered as more partieu- 


larly applying to Tigr^. No marriages are per- 
£Drmed in churches^ or by the interference of 
a priest, A man may have as many wives as he 
chooses^ if he does not think it prudent to be 
attached to one, which is seldom the case. But 
when it does happen that a man and woman 
imagine they can be content with each other, and 
live together a religious life, they agree in the 
presence of a court of the elders of the town, 
or district, called shummergildas, to put what- 
ever property they may have together, which 
property is coimted and considered as belonging 
to them both, and the one cannot dispose of any 
part of it without the approbation of the other. 
They then swear, in the presence of the shummer- 
gildaSy to be mutually faithful, and to take the 
holy sacrament together frequently on holydays; 
after which they go to the church, to make a con- 
fession, and the sacrament is administered to them 
for the first time. This is the only marriage 
that is a little Christian-like. During the time 
they are living in this holy state, they are called 
carravay which is sacred people ; but I have sel- 
dom known it to continue long without either the 
one or the other being suspected of adultery. 
The party accused of this act is taken before the 
shummergildaSf by whom they were joined, or, 
in case of their absence, before a court of any 


other shummergildas in the town, and, on the 
crime being proved by a certain number of wit- 
nesses, the shummergildas consult together and 
pass what sentence they think fit, according to 
the nature of the offence and the custom of the 
country, which makes a difference with regard to 
the number of times he or she may have been 
caught in the fact. If, after this, they still do 
not wish to be parted, which is often the case, 
the offender is sentenced to forfeit part of his or 
her share of the property joined together on 
their marriage, which is given to the offended 
party as rasoy which signifies a penalty, to be at 
his or her sole disposal. But, should the com- 
plainant insist upon being parted, whether it be 
the man or woman, the offender is sentenced to 
forfeit half of his or her original property. If they 
have children, they are divided according to the 
sentence of the shummergildas; when a boy and 
a girl, the father in general takes the boy and the 
mother the girl. At the separation of man and 
wife, I once saw, to end the dispute about a 
little girl, the father and mother cast lots 
which should have her : this is done in a very 
fair way ; the shummergildas takes two sticks, 
one of them being longer than the other that they 
may be identified; then they are presented to 
the man and wife, and the shummergildas says to 


the man, ^^This belongs to you,'' and to the 
woman, '^Thin belongs to you/' aftet which a 
stranger is caUed in, who nearer saw the sticks, 
but knowing what they are presented to him for, 
it being a common custom to cast lots on several 
occa8ions,he takes hold of them, and, putting the^ 
between his hands, places them behind liis head, 
when, rolling them round rapidly, he throws one 
down, saying, ^^ In the name of God, this is the 
owner," and each of the parents, knowing their 
own stick, thanks God and takes away the 

In the above-mentioned marriages, I have 
known instances of many being cheated by im- 
postors. There are a number of people in differ- 
ent parts of Abyssinia, who get their living by 
moggot and sheffhrt^ which signify *^ lawyer- 
ing and cheating," though tuvverku is the 
common name given to a lawyer, moggot bdng 
more applicable to those who plead causes, who 
are connected often with men who make sach 
marriages a business. One of these, knowing a 
woman to have a good property, feigns to fall in 
love with her, and entices her into the snare. 
After he has succeeded in persuading the poor 
woman to be his wife, and they are bound by 
an oath to receive the sacrament together and 
live as the select people of Christ, he, in a very 


short time, brings one of his acquaintances to be 
a constant visiter*, and a plan is arranged between 
them in what manner to act : for instance, a day 
will be appointed for the ruin of the poor woman, 
when the acquaintance will be lying and playing 
on the same sofa with the woman, such liberties 
being common in Abyssinia, when the parties 
are intimate friends and familiar ia the &mily, 
and then the husband will come in suddenly, 
bringing several witnesses with him, whom he 
has told previously that he has frequently caught 
a man with his wife. On their approach, the 
friend jumps from the sofa and makes his escape, 
in order to confirm the fact, and in this way the 
poor woman is cheated. If she says anything 
in her defence, when before the skummergiJdas^ 
the witnesses against her, who suppose they are 
attesting the truth, are too numerous, and she is 
accordingly condemned. I have known several 
instances of this kind, and indeed I once knew a 
woman to have been guilty of this shameful 
practice in several towns where she had lived. 
She was a native of Gondar, who set herself up 
for a tuvverkuy or lawyer, by which profession 
she procured her maintenance, as one of the 

* An Abyssinian is never jealous of a man with whom he is on 
terms of friendship, whatever familiarity there may be between 
him and his wife. 

312 LAW-SUITS, j 


higher class of people. She is known in all the i 
principal towns of Abyssinia by the name of 
WoUetta Gorgis SheflEart^ or cheat 

In all law-suits^ either before the governor of 
a province or a court of skummergilclasy the 
pUdntiff and the defendant stand up, with their 
cloth tied round their middle, leaving the upper part 
of the body naked, which is customary even 
in the severest weather. The tuvverkus stand 
on each side of them, pleading in a loud tone of 
voice their several causes, during which time 
wagers of mules, cows, sheep, or wakeahs of 
gold, &c., are continually laid by the tuvverkus^ 
that they will prove such and such charges which 
may be denied by the plaintiff or defendant; 
which wagers, when won, become the perquisites 
of the governor. They will also bind each other 
over to forfeit a mule, or a wakeah of gold, not 
to speak till the other has finished his speech ; 
but it often happens that the falsehoods which 
the one may be relating incense the other, who 
in general holds his mouth with his hand, to such 
a degree, that, forgetting he is bound by a forfeit 
not to speak, he bursts out into a rage, exclaim- 
ing. Assert! [a lie !] when he is instantly taken 
up. by the governor's servant, whose office it is to 
look for such slips, and obliged to give bond on 
the spot for the forfeit lost ; or he has a chain 


put on his wrist^ and is chained to one of the 
governor's servants till he pays the sum for- 
feited 3 though it is seldom that they cannot find 
some one standing or sitting by to be bond 
for them. These forfeits are also the governor's 
perquisites. I have known a great man lose by 
one laager fifty white mules^ which are the most 
esteemed^ the wager having been made merely to 
sho^r his consequence. 

VOL. I. 


Arts practised to procare Husbands — Dowry — Ceremonies of 
Marriage— The Arkeyt ; their Duties — Musical Instruments — 
Dancing — Depravity of the Clergy — ^Licentioasness of the no- 
bility and higher classes — Punctual observance of Fasts — ^Ad- 
ministration of the Holy Sacrament — Marks of Respect paid 
to Churches — ^Priests— Confessors — Schools — Punishment of 
Skholars — ^Written Charms — Story of a Gojam Dofter — ^To- 
bacco prohibited by the Priests — Their Dress — Form of 
Churches — The TVimxi/, or Ark — ^Mode of obtaining Redress 
from Princes or Chiefs — Payment of Taxes — Cattle— Servants 
— Houses — Agriculture — Ravages of Monkeys — Crops — ^Weed- 
ing — Cookery — Feeding. 

I SHALL now give some account of the way in 
which the Abyssinians procure husbands for their 
daughters^ and their mode of marrying. The 
Amhara, as well as the Tigr^, when they fancy 
their daughter old enough to take a husband, 
which is in general^ especially among the Am- 
hara, incredibly young*, plait her hair very neat, 
and blacken her eyes with a mineral called cohotj 

* I have known many middle-aged men take children from 
eight to twelve years of age to their wives, and they have borne 
children at fourteen*. 

* I am informed by Mr. Coffin that he has known many girls 
become mothers at eleven or even ten years of age. — Editor. 


.W^ich they obtain from the caravans from Egypt. 
They also die her hands with a root called so- 
cella, resembling our sweet potato^ of a dark red 
colour. She is then placed constantly at the 
door in dry weather, either spinning or clearing 
com, BO that every one who passes may behold 
ber; and she is taught by the mother to turn up 
the whitiBS of her eyes, (which are in general very 
large) when young men or strangers pass, and 
put on a smiling look, between modesty and bra- 
very, when answering their questions. If any 
man tBke a liking to a girl in this situation, let 
him be young or old, he either goes or sends to 
the mother, or any relation she may have, and 
asks for her, and, to satisfy himself respecting 
certain points, he himself sends a female ac^ 
quaintance to inspect her. The mother then de- 
mands her dowry, which is a dress, consisting of 
a cotton "shirt and a piece of cloth, which, if he 
chooses to be extravagant, will cost to the amount 
of four and a half or five dollars, for six months, 
she on her part engaging to do the labouring 
work in the house ; but she is allowed a servant 
for fetching wood and water, and other out-door 
duties. If the man has reason to feel satisfied 
with the girl, he sends a piece of white cloth 
dipped in the blood of a fowl to her friends, but 
if not, he returns her and takes back the cloths 
p 2 


he gave. The first three days the girl is obliged 
to drink a gravy made from a fowl^ very hotly 
seasoned with pepper and onions, from au er-* 
roneous notion that it may effect the purpose in- 
tended ; but as I have no skill in such matters I 
shall say no more about it. The husband can 
turn her away when he chooses, and she may 
quit him at the expiration of the time first settled, 
if they cannot agree. 

Those of a higher rank, such as chiefs of dis- 
tricts, farmers, or tradesmen, in general look out 
for some person's son of the same station as 
themselves, and the marriage is agreed on in the 
presence of the shummergildasy the father and 
mother of each giving a dowry. Only half the 
quantity of the girl's dowry is given to the son, 
though in Amhara both are equal. If it be a 
chiefs son or daughter, the parents give a certain 
number of .matchlocks, swords, cattle, cloths, 
ha/d money, and salt, the common currency of 
the country. The marriage is celebrated in great 
style. A large square dass is built with the 
branches and boughs of trees, and, on the day 
appointed, idl the relations and friends of the 
parties assemble, except the father or nearest 
relation of the man, who, after sending the son's 
portion to the shummergildas, prepares to re- 
ceive the married couple at his own house^ 


Several cows are in general killed, and in the 
doss a table or platform is spread out from one 
end to the other, covered with bread, maize, and 
sofva, called by the Amhara tstig and taller, so 
that all who attend may drink till they become 
intoxicated. When all is ready, the man, who is 
to take the woman away as his wife, comes 
riding on horseback, with several attendants, into 
the <&m;$, dismounts, and with spear and shield in 
hand, shows himself off to the best advantage ; 
boasting of his former deeds, and and of those he 
will still perform, &c. &c., according to the cus- 
tom of the country. His arkeys follow his 
example, in turn telling of their e3^ploits• They 
then sit down, and the goods, cattle, and other 
articles, given on either side in dowry, are counted 
by the shummergUdas, put together, and con-' 
signed to the arkeys, who send them home to 
the husband's premises. The festival then 
begins, and the raw meat is handed about, while 
it still reeks and shivers under the large two- 
edged knife, with which every man is furnished. 
The girl, whom, perhaps, the husband has never 
seen in his life, is seated on a couch, surrounded 
by her female servants and her arkeys, who hold 
their cloths before her, to conceal her from his 
sight. Before the festival arrives at its height, 
and when the parties are beginning to be intoxi- 


cated^ the husband again jumps up, boasting 2^ 
before, while his arkeys fly to the girl, take bold 
of her, drag her away, as if by force, and put her 
upon a mule, one of the arkeys jumping up be- 
hind her. The husband and his followers then 
mount their horses, and ride off together*. 

The arkeys, in Tigrd (called musiers in Am - 
hara) are in general four or five in number. 
The woman has only two arh^s, intimate ac- 
quaintances who have been intreated to take the 
ofiBce. They are sworn to be true to each other 
through life, and to protect each other's wives and 
families, and they afterwards live together as the 
dearest friends. They also go about the country 
to which they belong, to collect gifts in a pitiful 
manner, (as I have often told them) for the new- 
married pair; each striving to outdo the other 
in collecting the most, and, to complete their 
share, they often steal sheep, goats, and even 
cows, and take the fowls from the poor by 
force. This wild career lasts about three 

After the husband has taken his wife a great 
distance from the place whence he fetched her, 
if he cannot possibly reach his own district that 
day, he will take up his Ibdgings, which his 

* Their marriages in general take place about Christmas or 
after Ascension-day. 


attendants soon find^ in some village in the neigh- 
bourhood. Here^ after some refreshment, the 
man and wife retire to bed for the first time, an 
arkey of each party lying by them, to give 
assistance in case of illness or accident. If the 
husband is satisfied with his bride, a fowl is im- 
mediately killed, and a white rag soaked in its 
blood, which, together with a fat goat and a horn- 
fill of white honey, is sent back to the father and 
mother by one of the man's arkeys, who in 
general receives a present for his good tidings. 
But, shcmld he have reason to suspect her virtue, 
the husband takes a whip and makes her tell the 
name of her paramour, that he may take mea- 
sures to prevent any communication between 
them in futtire. He may, if he chooses, send her 
back immediately to her parents, and demand 
restitution of his dowry, though, for the sake 
of peace between his and her parents, he in 
general keeps her. In this case, however, in- 
stead of a fat goat and a hornful of honey, he 
sends back an old lean goat, with one ear cut off, 
and a horn half full of bad honey. This very 
often happens, as the girls are not remarkable for 
their chastity ; indeed I know it to be a fact 
that, in the province of Ammerseen, Temben, and 
in several parts of Enderta and Agow, parents 
actually take the precaution mentioned by Buffon 


to preserve the integrity of their daughters until 
the time of their marriage. 

At the above-mentioned marriages the trum-r 
peters^ drummers^ and fifers^ belonging to the 
governor of the province^ are present, and receive 
a piece and a half of cloth from every married 
pair throughout the province, which perquisites 
are granted to the governor to maintain the 

It may not be amiss to give in this place 
some account of their musical instruments. The 
trumpets are in general made of the skin of the 
elephant, except the lower broad mouth, which is 
the neck of a calebash. They give out a tre- 
iqendous sound. The fifes are made of a hard 
wood hollowed out, having three holes for the 
fingers of the left hand. They are blown into at 
the end, are about a foot and three quarters long, 
and their tone is very wild, especially when they 
are accompanied by a small instrument called 
torttj about eight inches long, which is likewise 
blown at the end, yielding a hollow, bass, and 
savage sound. Three trumpeters, three fifers, 
and one tora, with a long drum, narrower at one 
end than at the other, and beat at both ends with 
the hands, complete the band <^ the chief of a 

The band of a Ras consists of the number 


above-mentioned, and forty-four large drums ac- 
companied each by a small one. These drums 
are in the shape of the kettle-drums of Europe, 
cut out of trunks of large trees ; they are headed 
with cow-hide, and, being very heavy, are car- 
ried on muleis, the larger on the right side and 
the smaller on the left, the drummer riding 
behind, with a small straight stick in the left 
hand, and one that turns up at the end and larger 
in the right. His provisions, in leather bags, 
beneath the drums, prevent these heavy and 
clumsy instruments from galling the animal's 
back ; these drums produce a warlike sound, and 
in marches are beat regularly together, though 
they have but few changes. 

Of stringed instruments, they have a sort of 
fiddle, consisting of a piece of wood, square and 
hollowed out, with a neck about a foot and a half 
long. The hollow part is covered with hide, on 
which the bridge stands. It has only one string, 
and the stick is a bow bent, with several horse- 
hairs attached to it. They have also a kind of 
lyre, the lower part of which is made of a hollow 
piece of wood and covered with cow-hide, and 
above which is a slight wooden arch, about two 
feet high, to which six strings are fastened. 
Each string has a piece of wood, to answer to it 
as a screw, which twists the string round the top 


of the arch. This inetrument is called charcha^ 
mer. There is another, of nearly the same form^ 
and of the same materials, only larger and with 
ten strings called berganner. Some of them are 
four feet high, and their notes are very pleasant. 
The nobility and great men all practise playuig 
upon them ; the strings are beat with a piece of 
wood, or ivory, with the right hand, while the 
fingers of the left- command the tune. There ar^ 
besides many childish instruments chiefly made 
out of tibcf horns of animals. 

Their manner of dancing consists rather in the 
motion of the shoulders and head than in that of 
the legs or feet. When several dance at a time 
they move round in a ring. The men jump a great 
height at times> while the women squat down by 
degrees, making motions with the head, shoulders, 
and breast, until they nearly squat on the ground. 
They afterwards spring up in a lively manner, 
and go round as before. The Amhara do not 
practise this latter exercise, but their motions 
are the same. Their songs are far from humor- 
ous, and seldom consist of more than one or two 
short verses, sung over and over again, in a rude 
manner. The chanting of the priests in their 
churches and public places would be more agree- 
able, if they did not exhibit the most unbe- 
coming actions while they are so employed* 


The Abyssinians, while they profess to be rigid 
followers of the Christian faith^ are yet ignorant 
of the greater part of its precepts ; which arises 
chiefly from the want of a good example being 
shown to them by those of the superior class. 
£yen the heads of their clergy, instead of holding 
out to the populace an example of good Christian 
morals, practise the very reverse. They are in 
general the greatest drinkers in the whole 
country, and at feasts, the quantity of raw meat 
which they consume, and the ravenous manner 
in which they devour it, exceeds all belief; indeed 
they behave more like drunken beasts, when in 
company, than civilized beings. They are besides 
addicted to fighting, quarrelling, lying, swearing, 
cheating, and adultery. By chance you find, 
here and there, a priest who is free from these 
vices ; and who strives to set a good example ; 
but the clergy are too loosely governed, all con- 
sidering themselves as equals, to be corrected by 
the good example of one or two individuals. I 
knew one especially, with whom I was acquaint- 
ed for several years, at the head of the Trinity 
church at Chelicut, who always conducted him- 
self like a virtuous father of the faith, striving 
earnestly to bring the people over to the. practice 
of good morals. He even made a speech in the 
church, against the abomination and disgrace to 


the Christian feith of eating raw meat, but before 
he could finish he was interrupted by the clergy 
under him, who threatened to displace him and 
put another in his office; to this he did not 
object, readily consenting to have no more 
interference with the duty of their church, since 
they would not be taught by him. But the Ras^ 
hearing of the affair, prevailed upon him to retain 
his station, and to permit the people to do as 
their fathers had done before them. This chief 
priest's name was Allicar Barhe, mentioned in Mr. 
Salt's Journal; he was bom in Gondar, and 
obtained a superior education at the church Ledett^ 
in which he had held the situation of deacon. 
In such a state of things, how can it be expected 
that other classes of people should have good 
morals, when those who ought to teach them 
have none? 

The nobility, and all those of a certain rank, 
live in a state of great licentiousness and de- 
bauchery, even when married. They are seldom 
jealous of each other, or at least never show their 
jealousy, knowing well each other's culpability; 
but when a man actually witnesses the infidelity 
of his wife, he immediately kills the intruder. 
Nothing, however, happens to the woman more 
than that she is left to lament the loss of her 
lover, and to bear the shame of being accounted 


^ilty of his death. This seldom happens, as the 
great people of Abyssinia always live in separate 
apartments^ where both sexes have many conve- 
nient opportunities ; the women having the pri- 
vilege of keeping what servants and company 
they please, the same as the men. 

Notwithstanding the libertine conduct of the 
Abyssinians, they strictly keep all their fasts^ 
whicli are very numerous, and on those days never 
eat or drink, till about three o'clock in the 
afternoon, which time they compute by measuring 
so inany lengths of the foot given by the shade 
of the body on level ground. This, indeed, is the 
only way in which they keep time in Abyssinia. 
Their great Lent, which commences in February, 
lasts fifty-six days. The fast for the apostles, 
which is in one year fifteen days, and in the other 
thirty, begins in June. The fast for the Blessed 
Virgin, which is in August, lasts fifteen days. 
The fast of Quosquom, kept by priests only, 
beginning in October, and the fast before Christ- 
mas-day, called Ledetts, both continue thirty days. 
The fast of Tumkut, or of baptism, lasts one day, 
and the fast of Unus lasts three days, making 
altogether a total of one hundred and sixty five 
days in one year, and one hundred and fifty in 
another, exclusive of the Wednesdays and Fridays 


throughout the year, except daring the eight 
weeks after the great Lent, in which~ these fastB 
are not observed, being eight weeks of continued 
festiyal. Some eat fish on thes6 fast days, and 
others eat nothing but pulse or herbs, especially 
during the great Lent. 

Their years are called after the four Evan- 
gelists; that of John is the leap-year. St. 
John's, day is new-year's day. Christmas is on 
the twenty-ninth of Tisa, and answers to about 
the 6tii of our January. They reckon the number 
of years from the creation of the worid to the 
birth of Christ five thousand five hundred ; and 
from the birth of Christ to the present time one 
thousand eight hundred and five, the latter being 
about nine years short of our time. The lick- 
counts, or scribes, who regulate the time, esteem 
themselves very learned people, and are proud 
beyond conception. The priests are also proud 
of their learning, and of their rules and regu- 
lations in the performance of divine service as 
Christians, though numbers of them cannot 

The administering of the holy sacrament is 
quite a public ceremony. The sacrament is pre- 
pared in a part within the church walls, or hedge, 
called BelJdem, which is in general on the east 


side, \^liere no female is allowed to go*. It con- 
sists of ground rakinis and wheat flour, mixed 
with \^ater, and is brought from the apartment 
where it is prepared in a basket, covered with a 
bit of red cloth or silk, carried on the head of a 
deacon, a bell being carried before it, continuaUy 
rifling to give notice of its approach, when every 
body stands up and repeats the Lord's prayer. 
It is then placed in the middle of the dark part, 
where the altar stands, and cimdies are burned to 
give light, when a priest takes the mixture, which 
is in a large bowl, and, with a large wooden 
spoon, puts it into the mouths of those that come 
up to receive it, each repeating a short prayer 
while another priest gives them the cross to kiss. 
After receiving the holy sacrament, they place 
their hands to their mouths and go their way, nor 
will they on any consideration spit that day, even 
if a fly by chance be drawn into the mouth by 
their breath, which at other times would occasion 
them to vomit, as they detest a fly, and many 
will not even eat or drink what a fly has been 
found in. 

In the churches of a superior class the articles for 
preparing the sacrament are, like their other orna- 
ments, of gold and silver, the churches in general 

* No woman is permitted to enter or be buried on the same 
side of the church where the sacrament is administered. 


being very richly endowed, though I have before 
said the building itself is worth little. Ou passing 
a church mounted, they alight from their horse 
or mule, and kiss the gateway or tree in front, 
according to the distance they are at when 
passing, and, if at a distance, they take up a stone 
and throw it upon a heap, which is always found 
on the road opposite to the church. In Abys- 
sinia, a traveller, who sees in the wildest deserts 
large piles of stones, might be led to attribute 
the custom to the same motive which occasions 
similar piles to be found in Arabia, where some 
one has been killed and buried, and all who know 
him, as they pass, throw a stone on his grave ; 
but this is not the case here, those stones being 
thrown there by Christians, who know that the 
nearest church lies opposite to the spot : and on 
this account an Abyssinian traveller, when he sees 
such a pile of stones, knows that he is opposite to 
a church, and in consequence kisses the pile and 
adds another stone to the heap. 

The priests are numerous beyond belief. 
The total revenue of the church is divided into 
equal portions, of which the Allicar, or chief 
priest, has ten for his share ; others, according 
to their rank, one or more. Numerous parties of 
priests also resort to the different churches, who 
have no part in its income. Some live by begging. 


and some get a maintenance from the priests of 

the church who are too idle to do the duty when 

it comes to their turn, and so employ them. 

TTiere is a treasurer in every church called carpet, 

who looks after the wealth belonging to it 3 he is 

reckoned among those of the superior rank, and 

his income in general consists of three portions. 

When a priest has conduct enough to behave in a 

sober and righteous way, and never to be seen in 

company, when he first comes to live in a strange 

toTvn, he is taken notice^ of by every one of the 

to^wns-people, and they fly to him, as their father, 

confessing their sins, and giving him presents for 

for^veness ; and, if he remain a number of years, 

he is sure to amass considerable property. He 

may have two or three thousand such children, 

and each gives him every year, on St. John's or 

new-year's day, a piece or two of salt, or about 

the fifteenth part of a dollar. Those who have 

prudence enough to conduct themselves in this 

manner for five or six years will make money 

enough to maintain them during the remainder 

of their lives, and will then return to their native 

place, and purchase oxen, take a wife, commence 

farming, and live well, so long as the country they 

reside in is at peace. 

A priest can marry only once; the greater 
part of the priests, however, think it not lawful 


to marry, and many thousands who resort to 
Waldubba, Beshio, Temben, and other sacred 
places, never marry, though they are too often 
detected ui the commission of adultery. No one 
can take upon himself, where he is knewn^ to be 
a father confessor, unless he has been confirmed 
by the Egj^tian patriarch. There are priests 
and deacons, who go about to the different towns, 
or residences of chiefs, where they find employ* 
ment in teaching children to read, but this is 
very rare, and they have few scholars, which 
always surprised me, as the schooling is very 
cheap. The master receives, for teaching a 
boy or girl, one piece of cloth, equal to a 
dollar, every year, and two cakes of bread dsdly, 
from every scholar in turn, so that if he has 
many it does not bear hard on any individual* 
Their school is held generally in a churchyard, 
or in some open place near it, sometimes before 
the residence of the master, and, in that case, 
during the rains, they are all crowded up in a 
small dark hut, learning prayers by word of 
mouth from the master, instead of from a book. 
When a boy is somewhat advanced in learn- 
ing, he is made to teach the younger ones. 

However few the scholars, the master has in 
general great trouble with them, and, in addition 
to the ordinary punishments, numbers are con- 


stantly obliged to be kept in irons. The common 

way of pmiisfaing scholars is as foDows. The 

Bchoolinaster stands over them with a wax-taper, 

whicli cuts as severely as a whip, while five or 

six boys pinch the offender's legs and thighs, and 

if they spare him the master gives them a stroke 

with the taper; but the correction considered 

most effective for these young Abyssinian rogues 

is that of having irons put upon their legs for 

many months together, which in one instance 

I knew proved fatal. It was a grown Agow 

boy^ about thirteen years of age, who had more 

than once contrived to get his irons off and 

desert from the school, for which the master, by 

desiire of the parents, put so heavy a pair of irons 

upon his ancles, that he found it impossible to 

get them off, and this enraged him so much, that 

he drew his lai^e knife, cut his own throat, and 

soon afterwards expired. 

Very few Abyssinians learn to write; those 
who do are chiefly occupied in writing charms, 
and some of the more artful persuade the poor 
ignorant people that they are possessed of 
supernatural powers, especially the cunning 
Dofters of Gojam, many of whom travel, about 
the country, writing charms, &c. In country 
villages, the inhabitants will maintain one of 
these persons for months together, he pretending 


that he can prevent hail from destrojring liieic 
corn^ and the locust from approaching the dis- 
trict^ and cure all sorts of diseases with his 
written charms, for which he not only gets paid, 
but lives upon the fat of their district, and 
administers justice according to his own good- 
will and pleasure. 

I cannot help mentioning a circumstance which 
once befel one of these impostors. The Ras had 
often conversed with me, telling me the power 
these people had, and what dangerous enemies 
they were to those who o£Fended them j to which 
I always ceplied, that it was only a foolish super- 
stition of the ignorant, and that they had no 
power more than other people, and ought rather 
to be punished as impostors. Through frequent 
conversations he began, I saw, to be of my 
opinion, but dared not show it, for fear of giving 
umbrage to the priests. A Gojam Dofter came 
one day to ask the Ras to put him at the head of 
the clergy of some country district, assuring him 
that he could prevent the ravages of the small- 
pox, of the destructive locust, or of hail. The 
Ras, smiling, recommended him to me and Mr. 
Coffin, who were then sitting at dinner with him. 
In consequence, he made his bow, and addressed 
himself to us. On our return home^ he followed us, 
and we ordered our gatekeeper to permit him to 


enter the yard^ while I and Mr. Coffin went into 
the house, and soon returned with two English 
cart- whips, that came with the artillery harness 
and carriages brought by Mr. Salt. The Dofter 
smiled at seeing those long weapons, and asked 
the use of them. ** We are going to show you," 
said Mr. Coffin, and I immediately added, in a 
serious tone, *^ If you can save others from the 
wrath of God, save yourself from the whipping 
you are going to receive;*' on which we both 
began to lay on, till he fell at our feet, imploring 
mercy, declaring he had no more power than his 
fellow-creatures. After this acknowledgment, 
we gave him his bellyful of victuals, raw meat, 
and maize, and turned him out of the yard, when 
he asked us for money, which we refused, and he 
became very troublesome and abusive. At last 
he so provoked Mr. Coffin, that he took his blun- 
derbuss, charged it, put the blood of a fowl which 
he had just killed on the top of the powder, and 
went to the gate and discharged it at him ; when 
the man, seeing himself covered with blood, took 
to his heels and ran up to the top of a small 
mountain, where he remained till the evening, 
when he descended and went to the Ras's gate, 
calling out Abbate ! Abbate ! [justice] ; and 
stating that the white man had shot him. Upon 
this, the Ras sent for me and Mr. Coffin, to 


inquire into the matter, when, hearing the truth 
of the affiiir, he laughed heartily, and dismissed 
the fellow, who departed, and was never heard of 
more in that part of the country. For several 
weeks after, the old Ras would laugh heartily at 
dinner time over the story. 

Another time we produced the same eSect 
upon one of these impostors, with a number of 
squibs and crackers, that came from England 
also, which we threw upon him through the roof, 
into a iAoGe room, where he was writing his 
charms, and drawing the picture of hell, tiie devil, 
&c., which frightened him so much that he broke 
open the door, and, leaving his cap and turban, 
with all the utensils of his art, behind him, he 
ran off, and never returned. This also furnished 
great amusement to 'the old gentleman, though 
he never durst say any thing against these 
wretches in public, even when he was himself con- 

There was also a great Dofter who used to travel 
about the country of Enderta for several years^ 
and had become very rich by cheating the poor 
and ignorant. This Dofter used to attend the 
sick, and was employed to purify places supposed 
to be haunted by the devil, &c. He used always 
to commence his operations in the heat of the 
sun, when he would order all fires to be removed 


from near the spot^ and would then sit down on 
a dry place near the door, and tell the people to 
withdraw to a little distance while he prayed, 
during which time he would, by the assistance of 
the bottom of a broken bottle, set fire to some 
dry horse-dung, with the rays of the sun; he 
would then throw on some frankincense, to make 
a great smoke, and, rising up with his face 
Upwards heaven, would call his ignorant employ- 
ers, telling them in an awfiil tone, that "God 
had heard him, and sent down fire from heaven 
to destroy all their enemies, visible or invisible.'^ 
TTiis I found out by my own investigation, having 
produced the same eflFect with the bottom of 
a broken ArwZy, or bottle, which experiment I 
showed to the Ras. Still, none durst disbelieve 
the Dofter. 

The priests and clergy abhor the smoking of 
tobacco, and no one is allowed to enter a church 
who has previously been smoking, though num- 
bers of them take snuif. Indeed, the smoking of 
tobacco is forbidden by the priests to all classes, 
yet many are addicted to the habit, for which they 
are answerable to their father-confessor, it being 
accounted a sin. This prohibition took place 
many years ago, and derived its origin from the 
adventures of a priest, called Abba Zerraverrock. 
Being accustomed to smoke tobacco, and his 


stock being exhausted when on his pilgrimage to 
Deverer Libanus, on the road to Shoa, he was 
under the necessity of selling a silver cross^ which 
he wore about his neck, to a pagan Galla for a 
supply. On his return from his pilgrimage, he 
laid before the Echigge, or high-priest, and the 
court of Gondar, the wickedness he had been 
tempted to commit, through the practice of 
smoking tobacco, when instantly an order was 
issued forbidding all Christians the use of thai 
herb, which grows very plentifully in the kollay 
or warm parts of the country, and is very 

On entering a church, people always bow and 
kiss the comers of the door-way. The priests 
carry a small cross in their hands, which they 
frequently present to the people to kiss ; indeed 
the lower class kiss any picture shown to them, 
or any thing that resembles the human figure. 
Priests of the superior class have a long two- 
edged sword always carried before them, by way 
of state, and some of them even two, three, four, 
and more. Their dress is a long open shirt, with 
large wide sleeves and a collar, the ends of which 
hang down on each side of the breast to the waist, 
tapering to a point; long loose trowsers, a skull- 
cap, and a light turban. Some of them dress in 
yellow, but this colour is mostly confined to 


monks, or those who resort to the wilderness ; 
white being the colour in common use. The 
priests are in general very polite, and, as far as 
outward appearance goes, very good people, but 
they are for the greater part the most despicable 
wretches in Abyssinia, though some are to be 
found, as I have before said, with exceedingly 
good qualities. 

. Having already given some account of their 
churches, and of the manner in which they are 
ornamented, I shall now only remark, with re- 
spect to their general form, that the inner part is 
a square room within which stands an altar about 
the height of a man. It is constructed of wood, 
of very inferior workmanship, though in the su- 
perior churches painted very elegantly. Within 
this altar, which is called munvar^ is a small 
ark called tavvat, far inferior to the workman- 
ship of a common European tinker's tool-box, 
and about that size. This is the sacred article 
that bears the name of the saint to whom the 
church is dedicated, no one being allowed to 
touch it but the priests. On the holydays of the 
different saints, the neighbouring churches send 
about their tawats, to do honour to the respective 
church of each saint, and when in this way ex^ 
posed to public view they are borne on the head 
of a priest, being covered with silk or any other 

VOL, I. Q ' 


coloured stuff. Before them march the inferior. 

clergy belonging to the church, dressed in all 

sorts of rich clothes, Mdth crowns of gold, silver^ 

or brass, on their heads, each ringing a bell and 

bearing a long stick with a cross at the end, in one 

hand, and a kind of crucifix in the other, singing a 

joyful song.' The trumpeters also march in fronts 

while the high-priest rides behind with the 

priests of superior class, the populace following 

in procession. The girls form themselves into 

different parties, with their neighbours, and sing^ 

dance, and clap their hands, to the accompani-. 

ment of a long drum, beat at both ends by a girl^ 

who carries it with a strap about her neck. If in 

large towns, or near any populous place, the 

chiefs, with their soldiers, mounted upon horses 

and dressed in their warlike apparel, assemble to 

do honour to the tavvaty and they ride about in 

all directions, with fury and tumult, while the 

altar is moving slowly along; many accidenta 

happen at these times. During the holyday^ 

the tavvats of the respective churches are placed 

in small tents, or huts, built purposely, where 

each party of priests administers the sacrament 

to those who wish to partake of it, many choosing 

to receive it from the hands of a priest of the 

church dedicated to one saint, and many from 

others; their superstition leading them to believe 


^that onie sidnt may be more partial to them than 
another through life. In the same way the no- 
bility, and people of the middliDg class, give 
a feast every year in the name of some particular 
saint, whom they have made choice of from their 
'youth, keeping open houses during that day, and 
giving alms to the poor. Yet, I am sorry to 
add, they wring it from the poor again ten- 
fold, before the year is expired, by arbitrary 

Com, cattle, honey, butter, and cloths, are 
given, as tax or rent, to the chiefs of districts, of 
which a certain portion is paid by each to the 
prince or ruler of the province, yearly at Mascal. 
When the inhabitants of a district of any single 
individual find themselves oppressed by their 
governor, they repair to the premises of the 
prince or Ras, generally by night, where they cry 
out in a lamentable tone, Abbate! AbbateJ till 
he hears them and sends one of his household to 
inquire into their complaint. If it be thought 
reasonable, they are admitted into the prince's 
presence ; and, if he finds that they have been 
oppressed) he sends to the ofiender to return what 
has been unjustly taken ; if not, to appear himself 
immediately at court : but, in spite of this appa- 
rent facility of redress, the poor in general, sooner 
or later, content themselves under their oppression 

340 TAXES. 

rather than complain^ otherwise their chief will 
often bring them into a lawsuit, where they must 
attend daily, for a whole month perhaps, without 
getting a hearing, during which time they are 
not only detained from their daily labour, but 
have to pay dearly to the prince's household 
for admittance, whether they obtain a hearing or 
not; and, in general, when it comes to that point, 
the chief has the means of procuring false wit- 
nesses enough to condemn and ruin them. In 
fiict the peasants or labouring people, in all parts 
of Abyssinia, never know when their persons or 
property are safe, on which account they are 
obliged to repair to the habitations of their chief 
on holydays, some presenting bread, butter, 
honey, and corn, and others a goat, sheep, or 
fowls, to keep in favour, and to prevent him 
from sending his soldiers to live upon their pre- 

The south-east districts pay their taxes to 
government in salt, in the place of cloths, being 
near the arroj or salt-pans, where little cloth is 
manufactured. Enderta, Serra, Womberta, Deora, 
Desa, and Monus, all pay salt and cattle, and no 
cloths ; Wojjerat pays honey and cattle, while all 
other districts throughout the kingdom pay the 
greater part of their tribute in cloths or gold. A 
carpet, a piece of silk^ a matchlock, or any other 

CATTLE. 341 

ajrticle^ brought into their country by the caravans, 

is valued and received as cloth or gold. Cloth is 

very cheap, cotton being extremely plentiful in 

tlie centre and northernmost parts of Abyssinia. 

Tliey manufacture no other kind of cloth but 

cotton, though they make coarse rags from the 

fleeces of their sheep, which are, for the greater 

part, black. * 

Though it is such a fine country for pasture, 
the sheep are seldom fat. The larger kind, of 
cattle, as well as goats, thrive weU, and would be 
the best and finest I have ever seen were they 
taken better care of. Their keepers are cruel, 
and, as they are obliged to be penned up and are 
very seldom cleaned, fatal diseases often occur 
among them, especially during the rains. The 
horses and mules are in general.kept in the house 
together with their master, which makes it better 
for them. The horses are. mostly spirited and 
handsome, and will bear much fatigue.. They 
never clean them ; indeed, when I have talked to 
them about the manner of cleaning and shoeing 
horses in my own country, it has caused great 
laughter, and few could believe that it was true ; 
however I used to convince them how much better 
my own horses appeared, from their being cleaned 
every day, though I was not able to shoe them. 
The whole country abounding in com and grass, 


horses are fed well and at a cheap rate. A grass^ 
cutter's pay is only three pieces of salt^ equal to 
three dollars, per year, besides his provisions, and 
he brings a large load every day from the moun- 
tains or valleys. If it be a very dry season, so 
that long grass becomes scarce, he always pro- 
vides for the horses plenty of ^c^ straw, which is 
equal to stfaw or hay. The pay of all other 
common servants of both sexes is the same ; and 
I have observed, that if through their faithfulness 
and attention the master may think fit to make 
them an addition to their pay, or any present, 
they become immediately ungovernable and in- 
solent, the least indulgence spoiling them for 
good servants. When not indulged they are very 
submissive, and never receive any thing from 
their master's hand without bowing and kissing 
the article. The day they receive their new cloth, 
or wages, after sewing it into a proper form for a 
dress, they go to their master and mistress, and 
bow with their foreheads to their knees, saying, 
*^ Bless my new dress, that it may be a lucky 
one !" Servants of both sexes, after washing 
either the master's or mistress's feet, always bow 
and kiss them ; they are in general clean in their 
persons, and wash themselves often as well as 
their dress. Still they are seldom free from the 
itch, to which disease all persons in the country 

HOUSES. 843 

are liable. The women keep the clearest from it^ 
by soaking their hands and feet in an infusion of 
a root called socella, which dyes them a dark red 
colour by way of ornament. 

Their houses are far from being dean, in 
general swarming with vermin. They consist 
only of stones and clay, thatched over with a 
kind of grass, which I have mentioned in a former 
part of my Journal. The land is cultivated with 
great ease ; they use no kind of manure to enrich 
the soil. They plough with a small plough, 
which the farmer holds in one hand and & large 
whip in the other, and it is drawn by. a yoke of 
oxen, which are trained to be very steady. A 
cow is never put into the yoke, for which reason 
an ox is never killed, unless he will not or is not 
able to draw the plough. Cows are always used 
for slaughter. In clearing for cultivation land 
which never before was tilled, they cut down the 
trees and bushes, which they pile in different 
places over the remainipg stumps of the larger 
sort, and, when dry, set them on fire, and then 
plough the ground two or three times over, and 
it is fit for cultivation. 

At the commencement of the rains, the fields 
farthest from their villages are frequently da- 
maged by hogs and monkeys, which are very 
numerous everywhere near the mountains, the 


centre of the larger plains being alone exempt 
from these intruders. I have myself seen an 
assemblage of large monkeys* drive the keepers 
from the field, iir spite of their slings and stones, 
till several people went from the village to their 
assistance, and then they only retired slowly, on 
seeing that the men had no guns . Where leopards 
resort the country is clear of monkeys, but the 
fisffmer is continually losing his sheep and goats, 
though his com may be safe. Wheat, barley, 
beans, hemp, and a com called arras in Tigr^, as 
well as peas, are sown in the month of June, 
after the first day or two of rain. Other different 
varieties of grain, called marshella daguxu^ and a 
red tq^, called tq^ agi, are sown from the latter 
end of April till the middle of May. There are 
in general ten or fifteen days' rain in these months. 
Their harvest for the above-mentioned grain lasts 
from the latter end of September till the begin- 

♦ These monkeys, I am told by Mr. Coffin, are very mischievoas 
and dangerons, especially to young females, when they chance to 
meet with them unprotected in solitary places : in case of blows 
or resistance they become extremely savage. I am not certain 
whether medical men are aware that these animals can be ino- 
cnlated with the small-pox ; but, as I have somewhere heard, or 
read, that this disease cannot be communicated, in any way, from 
the human subject to the brute creation, I merely mention the 
circumstance, as a fact that has come within Mr. Coffin's personal 
knowledge, and that the complaint is as fatal to the monkey as it 
is to the human species. — Editor, 


ning of November; white and black taff^ which is 
so^rn in the latter end of July and the beginning 
of August^ is harvested in November and De- 
cember ; other species of grain called shemberra 
and bursine, are sown in the odd days, or epagomay 
bet-ween August and September, and their harvest 
is in December and January. On plains or in 
valleys, near the rivers, they have crops all the 
year round, by means of trenches cut from*the 
rivers, which water their banks for a consider- 
able width, according to the industry of the far- 

The rainy season, which is June, July, and 
August, is the quarter called Currumpta; the 
following three months are the quarter called 
Koi in Tigr^; and the next quarter is called 

The country is much overrun with numerous 
kinds of weeds, which, if neglected and not 
plucked up before the corn begins to form its 
ear, are often destructive to whole fields. The 
Abyssinians always help each other to weed their 
corn, which is done with great cermony ; a chief 
will muster every soldier in his service and march 
at the head of them to his corn-fields, where they 
lay down their arms, form into a line, join in 
chorus to a song, and, in general led by a female, 
march on plucking up the weeds. In this way 


346 COOKEftT. 

they soon get through a number of fields^ throw- 
ing the weeds down as they pluck them^ and 
leaving the farming-men^ boys^ and girls^ to carry 
them to the borders of the field. In the month 
of September the chief, in general, finds this em- 
ployment for his soldiers to preserve his favourite 
white tq^. At times he will, on his rjeturn home^ 
give them a feast of raw meat and maize, which 
is considered as the greatest treat in Abyssinia. 
Nothing can give more pleasure to the soldiers^ 
or be more welcome to a visiter or stranger, 
than entertaining them with the blood- warm raw 
steaks of a cow and a homful of maize or 

In their cooking, they are very clean, except ?^ 
in two or three dishes which I shall not omit to u3 
mention. Fowls are washed, after being cut into } " 
pieces for cooking, in a dozen waters at least, 
and the same is practised in cleaning fish. Both [, 
dishes are cooked with curry, a mixture of hot ^ ^ 
chilly-pepper, onions, and salt, called dillctck, ' 
with the addition of some butter and spices, <^^ 
which altogether form a hot compound that few 
European throats could swallow. 

Mutton and goats' flesh are somtimes curried, 
and sometimes boiled, but more frequently only 
a little broiled. Partridges, guinea-fowl, and 
other game, are always curried. A very favourite \ 





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